For most Tail-ender groups, who have no Bible or church, cultural traditions are an important part of their history, worldview and identity. Familiar stories, celebrations and traditions can be used to show that God is not far from them.
Three Akeu stories-of-old, including one legend, a village celebration and a proverb about rice, were recorded at GRNT with an Akeu language helper in August. The recordings have already proven to be a powerful evangelistic and discipleship tool.
Using GRN's MP3 Saber player, one older Akeu woman accepted Christ and was discipled as she began to understand how their stories have been fulfilled in Jesus. Likewise, a 20-year-old Akeu woman, Ya Nym, also came to the Lord recently after receiving a fuller understanding of Christ as the redeemer of the old Akeu way. Ya Nym is currently being trained by SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) as a literacy teacher for the Akeu children of her home village.
"Placing Jesus in the legend as their fulfillment makes the Akeu feel special in God's sight. The legend spans generational gaps and speaks to their hearts. It has been like a 'walk to Emmaus' experience for them and us," said Blake Staton, a GRNT volunteer and missionary to the Akeu. Please pray as the team works together to produce a "story approach" using the Akeu culture to reveal Jesus. Also pray for Ya Nym, as she grows in Christ and considers God's purposes for her life.
In October, GRNT visited for the first time the Yong, an unreached people group of 12,000 with 11 villages in Thailand. Predominately Buddhist, the Yong culture and language remain intact and very strong. They have their own radio station, as well as cultural museum with Yong handicrafts. However, they have no written script or oral recordings in the Yong language.
The team met with Yong village leaders at the Buddhist temple. "The Yong have a radio station which broadcasts in Yong daily. Their culture is strong with traditional Yong songs and legends, which have never been recorded. It would be good to make recordings in Yong which could be broadcasted if financing and permission were received," said Field Recordist Lot.
The Mpi priest, with whom GRNT continues to stay in contact, traveled with GRNT's team four hours from Phrae to visit the Mpi of Nan in September. Though both groups share the same heart language, in Nan, they do not call themselves Mpi, but Gao. Only Gao who are over 40 years old can still speak their heart language, unlike the Mpi of Phrae whose children can still speak the language.
The team learned more of Gao history and heard one of their legends about reaching for the great Star. According to the Gao, they are visited annually, as the Mpi of Phrae are, by the same "nameless, holy angel," who protects and warns the villagers.
"Our future recordings can focus on aspects of their history and traditions that can point to Christ. Then we can build from there," said Lot. "We also hope to join with the Mien Christians who live near the Gao in sharing the message of Christ."
Please continue to pray for the Mpi, as well as for new contacts among the Mpi or Gao who would like to see their language preserved with future recordings. The team is considering additional Yong contacts in Chiang Mai, as well as partnering with a nearby Thai church. Please pray for language helpers to emerge among the Yong so Good News recordings can be produced.