I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not so much because of the writing style or the exotic stories. I was enthralled at how God worked in miraculous ways among the Balangaos. This gave me a glimpse of how the Holy Spirit is still at work, just as He worked among the first century church. As the Bible Believer church grew, there were many parallels to the early church as they began to be mission minded.
Joanne Shetler devoted twenty years of her life to translating the Bible into Balangao. Even that ministry was sidetracked over the years as God decided to explain the Word in real-life ways. She dealt with cultural issues, death, evil spirits, and countless trials of faith. As she translated, she used deaths and other major events as teaching opportunities. She used her medical training to help women during pregnancy and others with basic medical needs. She translated and shared her life with these people, and as the Spirit moved her along, she acted.
One event that stands out to me was when she had an Elijah moment with the spirit mediums. The spirits were tormenting Benito’s son. Benito was a new believer and Joanne saw this event as an attack against him. The spirits had lost their hold on him and were fighting back in whatever ways they could. Joanne mentions many times that she did not like dealing with spirits but this one day I believe she had been empowered by the Holy Spirit to confront the powers of darkness. She grabbed Chalinggay, the medium and removed her from the house. Then with boldness and faith declared to everyone assembled, that God would prove himself more powerful than the spirits. However, this Elijah moment was not confined to this one experience. It continued for several days.
The next Sunday, Joanne went to apologize to Chalinggay for her rudeness. As she sat there, she was moved to confront Chalinggay about her empty life spent in service to the spirits. During this time, Joanne also spoke boldly to Forsan, another spirit medium. Both mediums were tormented physically for several days. However, with prayer and more teaching both women turned from the spirits to the Living God and were delivered both spiritually and physically. Through the supernatural work of God in those three lives, the Word began to move forth in power.
This book was humbling. It showed me how God can use one person who is willing to obey and persevere. The best part was that this did not occur 2000 years ago in Rome or Asia Minor. This occurred less than forty years ago in the Philippines. This shows me that God is still at work and wants to do this around the world.