In the past, missionaries to remote tribes typically started their translation or preaching efforts with the New Testament gospels. But they found that “conversions” were quite often very short-lived.
However, when mission organizations decided to start telling the gospel from the beginning—with the Creation account of Genesis—and teaching the Bible’s history chronologically, great things began to happen.
Once they understood the role of the Creator and the origin of sin, people of different tribes and tongues could understand the significance of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Understanding that Christ is also their Creator whose birth on earth made a way for them to be restored and saved from the penalty of their sin, they had the foundation necessary for depth and growth in their faith.
For years, New Tribes Mission (Sanford, Florida) has acknowledged the importance of teaching the Bible chronologically, from the beginning. Their missionaries now base their teaching on the curriculum Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ. Since its release in 1991, the curriculum has been taught on every continent and translated into 43 major languages and approximately 200 minor languages. Over the years, New Tribes Mission has received countless testimonies about the effectiveness of chronological teaching.
One example comes from Don and Janet Schlatter, who ministered to the Lawa tribal people in northern Thailand. After many years of ministering, Don had the opportunity to attend a New Tribes leadership conference about the chronological approach. Seeing its value, he returned to Thailand and quickly put it into use. As he was going through the Old Testament, one of the Lawa elders told him, “Before you taught us from the middle to the top of the tree. Now we are hearing about the bottom of the tree. It brings into focus much which was confusing before.”
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