It was a homecoming in March when Tom Schoen visited the small South American country of Suriname. Accompanied by Steve Shantz, who previously served as TWR’s vice president for Latin America, Schoen was returning to the land of his boyhood.
Tom’s parents were pioneer missionaries in the region who introduced indigenous people to Christ. Now he and his wife Junine will be serving those same people through radio broadcasts, as they serve with TWR.
After meeting with the appropriate officials in the capital city of Paramaribo, the two travelled to three villages in the interior to meet with church elders. Shantz and Schoen felt “encouraged to hear (the elders) talk about needing to really own the projects themselves.”
One village chief had led a mission trip into Brazil a little more than a year ago in which 21 people received Christ, Shantz related. Because of ill health, he had been unable to return to disciple them so he was particularly excited about the radio project.
“If he could have left them with a radio, then they would be hearing Bible teaching every day,” Shantz explained.
When Schoen and Shantz returned to the capital city, word had spread about the radio project as far as the Surinamese Vice President Ronnie Brunswijk.
A tentative meeting was scheduled. Unfortunately, the Vice President had to travel to the interior to deal with flooding, but one of his associates assured the men that Brunswijk’s interest was genuine. Schoen and Shantz are hoping and praying that the two Surinamese representatives in Paramaribo who are helping with the project will be able to meet with the Vice President.
The proposed stations, which will be powered by solar energy, will be used to disciple Wayana and Trio tribal members, many of whom met Jesus during Schoen’s childhood. They have dispersed deeper into the jungles looking for new places to hunt and fish as well as to flee the pressures of modern life. This makes radio an ideal tool to help them to continue to grow their faith.
The goal is also to reach those who are not only far from populated areas but away from God because they have not heard of Him. They will only hear if someone speaks to them in their own language and in a way they can understand.
A formal letter has been written to the Suriname government requesting licensing, Shantz said that he and Schoen plan a return trip to Suriname as soon as it appears that will be granted.
Please pray for the Suriname Project:
- Pray for open doors with the Suriname government
- Pray for a quick resolution in the licensing process
- Pray that as the gospel is preached to the indigenous people many will come to know Jesus and grow in their faith.