Total Years of Service with NTM
Ben and Rita served with New Tribes Mission for 24 years.
How were you challenged into missionary service?
The ladies sewing circle at our church became acquainted with NTM through some students attending Bible School in Milwaukee, WI. The ladies were challenged to begin sewing clothing for some orphans among the Ayore tribe in Bolivia. A single missionary lady cared for these children and informed us of what they needed. The ladies also made bandages for the lepers in Bolivia. Several years later, the New Tribes Bible School and Language Institute moved to Waukesha, WI, and some of the staff and students began attending our church. They invited our family to attend their NTM Missionary Conference at Camp Awana near Fredonia, WI. After attending that for several years and getting to know some missionaries, our hearts were challenged to become involved. I was a tool and die maker and Rita was a Child Evangelism teacher. I was 41, Rita 36, and we had 3 children, ages 16, 13 and 11. The Lord spoke to our hearts, but believing this should be a family decision, we asked our children to pray about it and tell us what they believed God would have us to do. They were all God’s children and after some time they agreed that we should go into NTM.
Where did you serve and for how long?
While we were in missionary training, we were excited as we heard the needs from around the world and were challenged with each speaker we heard to places like the Philippines, Thailand and Colombia, S.A. Where do you want us Lord? He led our hearts to wait on Him and “follow the open doors”.
Soon we were asked by NTM leadership to help on staff at the stateside Language Institute in Camdenton, MO. We worked there as work detail leader and in the bookstore for 4 years. Then we were asked by NTM leadership to help open a new missionary training center at Baker, OR. There, for 11 years, I, Ben, taught New Testament Church and Church Planting, while Rita helped as hostess and in the office. We also served our last 9 years before retirement at the missionary training center in Fredonia, WI.
What was your biggest test of faith?
It seems it is always the hardest to trust the Lord in the lives of ones children. In 1980, Rita and I, along with our oldest son, Matt, who was by then also serving as a missionary with NTM, led a short term group of missionary workers to Colombia, S.A. on a work project. While on an outing to a river to do some tubing, a rock fell from a ledge above them and hit Matt on the head, causing him to fall 25 feet and land on a small rock ledge. They were able to move him via a makeshift canvas hammock to where the mission plane (which was miraculously available) could fly him to Villavicencio to a small hospital.
I, Ben, went with him in the plane, but Rita had to stay behind, as there was not enough room. She well remembers God giving her this verse from Psalm 86: verses 1 and 16 to sustain her heart as she waited. “Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy…. Turn to me and have mercy on me; Grant me your servant strength and save the son of your maidservant.” O Thank you Lord!
When we arrived in town, Jack and Martha Winslow, NTM missionaries there, knew just how to help us get Matt to the hospital and keep his neck and head safe, as Jack had his neck broken in the past and knew how to immobilize Matt. Thank you Lord! Matt had a skull fracture as well as several broken teeth, but thankfully recovered completely after a few weeks.
Our daughter, Rondy and her husband, Tom, also then missionaries with NTM, along with their three daughters had to be flown from their tribe because their lives were threatened. That incident and the illness of the girls, which required the expertise of American medical help, were another trial which was heavy on our hearts. However, again God has done great things for them and each of the girls has received wonderful medical care from specialists.
Our youngest son, Tim and his wife Peggy, have worked in a tribe in the Philippines, been dorm parents to teenage boys at Faith Academy and also have reached out to teens through Bible Studies and to younger children through VBS, as well as helping on the Philippine Field Leadership Team. They have two married sons and three granddaughters.
All three of Ben and Rita’s children either have served or are involved now in missionary service, some in the Philippines, Bolivia, Belize and the 10/40 window. Even their grand children are heading that way. They are overwhelmed by God’s grace to them to be using their family in this way, but admit it is still harder sometimes to trust the Lord in the lives of their children and grandchildren than it was for themselves.
Advice you would give to new missionaries going to the field.
Be flexible for whatever God wants! Also to quote one of our teachers, Bill Dillon, “Keep your nose in the book and your eyes on the Lord.”