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Unreached People Groups

A Discussion with Margaret Stringer

“ I cannot think about his first prayer without chills of joy. ”
 |  Margaret Stringer  |  Unreached

Since there are some reading this article who will not be familiar with you and your ministry, could you give us some background information about how the Lord led you to minister in present day Indonesia?

I was still in Bible College and praying about where God wanted me to go. I was called to be a missionary at the age of 12. I came home for a school break and a missionary from what was then Dutch New Guinea had a presentation and God let me know at that time that that was where He wanted me to go. Indonesia took over the island from Holland and I was the first missionary to go there under the Indonesian government.

What were some of the greatest challenges facing a single missionary lady in the 1960’s? Do you think it is any different today?

In the 1960s single lady missionaries were not completely accepted by other missionaries. However, the people in Papua were very accepting. Yes, I think it is different today. Only once in a while do I meet someone who is not accepting of single ladies..

Could you tell us about language-learning and how important it is for missionaries?

Language learning is extremely important! I feel that it is the key to a successful and rewarding ministry. Understanding the culture and speaking the language is absolutely necessary if the missionary is to be able to communicate with the people in a meaningful way.

What were some cultural keys or redemptive analogies among the Citak you were able to use in order to share Bible truths?

They had a legend/myth about what happens when a person dies. They felt that the spirits of departed loved ones would come for the spirit of the one who had just died. They would take that spirit into the jungle where there would be a garden. If the spirit of that person divided the fruits then they would take him down a NARROW path to a village where he would live much like he had while alive. If he did not share the fruits the spirits would take him down a WIDE path where there was a hole in the ground with branches covering it. The spirit of the person would fall into the hole never to come out again. Before I knew that legend I told the story about the 2 paths and was very surprised with the response. It became a great way to tell them about Heaven. Another example of understanding the culture of the people.

Do you have a favorite memorable moment among the Citak tribe?

I have so many that it would be difficult to decide on one. One of those times was when the first cannibal – Bidaw – was saved. I cannot think about his first prayer without chills of joy. He prayed something like this. “God, I have killed and eaten people. I have stolen women. I cut a man’s chest open with an ax. I just don’t want You to think about that anymore.”

Another one was when I was preparing to come to the US to retire. Boar, another former cannibal said something like this to me. “Nona, thank you for coming. You brought us out of the darkness into the light. Thank you for telling us how we could go to heaven.”

Since a large part of your time in Indonesia was dedicated to Bible translation, tell us what you were feeling when you were finally able to present the Citak people with the New Testament in their own language.

That is a feeling I cannot really describe. It felt so awesome that God would allow a country girl to do such a thing for Him. When we had the dedication service I was so very hyper and could not settle down. I will never forget the old village chief who could not even read. He picked up his copy and returned to his seat hugging it to his chest. I am in tears now as I write this remembering the grace and love of God who allowed me to have such an experience.

After forty years of experience in the jungle, what skills and practical training would you advise for someone called of God to minister in a tribal environment?

Learn all you can about as much as you can. Carpenters, mechanics, Geek Squad, etc. were all missing so I had to learn to do a lot of things. I often said that I could work on radios, computers, generators, outboard motors, etc. I didn’t fix too many of them, but I learned to work on them.

We understand you have authored two books. In brief, could you tell us the theme of each one?

The first one, “From Cannibalism to Christianity” is about going to a group of people who were still practicing cannibalism and had never seen a white person. It covers the period from the first contact to the first converts (5 years later), and to their first church.

The second one, “Jesus Led Me All The Way” is an overview of my life as a missionary. My goal for that book was to encourage young missionaries, and to influence young people to commit their lives to the Lord.

What is your current ministry focus as you travel and speak at churches?

Again, my desire is primarily to influence EVERYONE whatever age to commit their lives to the Lord as the only way to know real joy as a Christian.

As partners with the missionaries we support, tell us how we could actively engage in their ministry and be a genuine encouragement on the field.

WRITE. Most churches do not communicate with their missionaries although they require that the missionaries communicate with them. When communicating let them know that their prayer letters are being read and the prayer requests are being prayed over. One church that really encouraged me would write such things as, “How is Titus doing? We are praying for Noak.” I knew that they were paying attention and it was a tremendous encouragement.

We understand that since your “retirement” you have returned to Indonesia several times. Please tell us about your recent trip and your project with the Papyrus Solar Audio Players.

For this please refer to my letter that will be coming out soon. It was a wonderful experience and I am so grateful to God for the privilege.

What are the greatest prayer needs you have, keeping in mind that this article will not be read until a few months from now?

Health and strength to do His will. I am 75 years old now so things don’t come as easy as they used to.
Fullness of the Holy Spirit to be an influence to others.
That I will always be sensitive to His leading in all things.

More Coverage

A Discussion with Dale & Vickie Money

Anyone having a desire to serve as a missionary in this region should be focused on three main areas: 1. Make sure of your calling 2. Acquire adequate training 3. Be patient

A Discussion with Michael & Kristen Carter

“ We can meet a person for the first time and have a religious conversation. It’s almost as natural as talking about a job or the weather. ”

A Discussion with Edgar & Rosann Feghaly

When the Moslem countries declared that they do not want to allow foreign missionaries to evangelize their own people, I realized that something must be done.