Linda has served the Lord with NTM for twenty nine years in translation and linguistic work in PNG with the Siawi tribe. She was born in 1945 and raised in Missouri.
She was saved at age thirteen. While her parents were not church-goers, through a relative who loved the Lord she attended church and eventually understood her need of a Savior. She became active in the girl’s missionary group of the church and felt God calling her to the mission field. She received information from her denomination’s mission board on how to prepare for a missions ministry and was heading that way, but then someone counseled her that it shouldn’t just be her idea to go, but God’s call. She listened to their advice and dropped the idea of missions, since she couldn’t say that she had heard a call.
Married at eighteen to Lloyd, a Christian, they served the Lord in their church. Later they began attending a church where NTM missionaries were supported and they chose to support a couple through whom they received the NTM magazine, Brown Gold (now NTM@Work). Especially knowing that God had been working in her heart years ago about missions, it broke Linda’s heart to read how many countless millions were going into a Christless eternity because there were so few workers to go out and proclaim the Gospel.
Through the years God continued to burden her heart with the need for missionaries, but He burdened her husband’s with giving to missions through careful budgeting and sacrificial living rather than going. It was after Lloyd was taken home to the Lord in 1982, that she understood the Lord’s continued call on her life to go. It was to prepare her for this very time-the time to go. August 1983, she left to begin her training with NTM, first at the Mission Institute in Wisconsin and then finishing down in Missouri for the language and culture training. It was there that it became clear that the unusual twists of thinking that God had given her were those needed for understanding and learning languages. Three years later, she was headed for PNG to be involved in church planting.
After a short orientation time, it was decided she would join the Siawi team, serving as the team linguist, but first the two families needed to get settled in a bit. While waiting, she went into the Iwam tribe to the village of Aumi for a while where her linguistic lessons got their first trial run, as she did phonemic analysis for the missionaries there. In February, 1987, the two families had their house shells up, so it was time for her to join them in Siawi. A work team helped build her house shell in three days. What remained to be done was all the interior finishing-adding doors, walls, cabinets, etc. The Lord provided a Siawi man, Kawi, who proved extremely helpful, even if he’d never held a hammer before.
In April, 1987, Linda and the rest of the Siawi team began language study. As the linguist of the team, her responsibility was stay far enough ahead to be a help to the others in understanding the Siawi grammar, as they all explored the Siawi culture and beliefs. Although her work was primarily linguistics and translation in Siawi, after a few years, she also served as a translation consultant for the PNG field. Later linguistic consultant and translation consultant trainer responsibilities were also added.
During the training before going to the field, there were complications and challenges, some of them very painful, like the death of her oldest son, just 2 years after her husband’s home-going. But through all these things, the Lord was teaching and strengthening her for his service. As the Lord led her through these times, providing the courage and developing the faith she would be needing, she learned that God is enough. If all else fails, he is there.
That knowledge and trust was vital, as the Lord led her on to Papua New Guinea and into the little jungle village of Siawi. Not only were there the challenges of learning and unraveling the grammar structure of an unwritten language with its attendant cultural aspects, but down through the years, coworkers came and went, as they faced their own challenges and struggles. There were several times when she was the only member of the team left, not knowing if others would join the effort to plant a strong church in Siawi or not. The importance of those lessons of God’s faithfulness to his promises was so clear, as those difficult times came. Truly, God WAS enough.
During the time of learning the language, team members were watchful for words that would help build a spiritual vocabulary. The hardest to find? Words like “love,” “thankfulness,” and “truth” because Satan distorts all of those. The word for “substitute” was found when someone asked to return a piece of clothing for a different color-a substitute for the original piece. Carefully recorded, that word has been used in Scripture to refer to Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. The word for love wasn’t found as easily, since most of the words carried either a sexual or a personally beneficial meaning, none of which came anywhere close to matching God’s love for us. Then, one day when a child rolled into a fire and was burned badly, a different expression for love was heard. “Oh! His father’s heart roots are wrapped around that child, so that he is devastated!” That exclamation provided the word for love that could express, at least in part, our God’s great love for us.
While one of her original team members gained fluency and was able to share God’s plan of salvation, teaching through Genesis to Acts and Christ’s resurrection, immediately afterward, that family had to leave the Siawi work. With 40-60 new babes in Christ needing teaching, it was a long twelve years and a number of different coworkers coming and going before anyone reached fluency, so that those new believers could have further teaching and grounding in their faith. Even then, those two men’s families both experienced struggles that led them back to the USA for a good while after having only presented the gospel message again-still no teaching beyond the milk of the Word.
Then, in late 2008, both families were back and teaching began in Romans. It was God’s timing, and even though one of the families had to leave the field in January, 2009, the teaching was able to be continued. And the believers began to grow. After having gone to full time consulting ministry because of the lack of coworkers, Linda was able to move back into translation full time, with Siawi believers partnering with her, committed to getting God’s Word translated into their own heart language.
Even after the remaining family needed to move out of Siawi, the Lord enabled the translation to continue, providing committed Siawi men to support and help Linda finish translating the New Testament into the Siawi language. They were there to help with the many maintenance nightmares due to old equipment and termite consumed housing and even though eyesight and hearing problems were plaguing Linda (now in her late 60’s), the Lord clearly showed the Siawi believers that it would be accomplished through His work and power, not the missionary’s.
It was with joy and thankfulness to a faithful God that they saw the Siawi New Testament with Old Testament portions completed in September, 2012. Since that time, the Siawi New Testament has been printed and is in the hands of the believers. While there are many growing pains and challenges from the culture, the young Siawi Bible Church is standing on its own, with Siawi pastors and deacons leading the church.
In March, 2013, Linda retired from NTM. She is still in contact with the Siawi believers, and has made several trips back to the field, the most recent to introduce an updated literacy program through a workshop for the Siawi literacy teachers. While she intends to continue some editing and revision work for them, she doesn’t plan any further trips to PNG.
Linda’s relationship with her sending church and faithful prayer and financial supporters remains tremendously strong. With full retirement, she was able to advise her supporting churches that they could shift a good bit of their support from her to active missionaries, both overseas and in the support ministry here in the USA. In doing that, she made sure they knew that she and the Siawi believers were still counting on their full prayer support to continue, as it has from when she left for the field 30 years ago.
Would Linda do it all over again? “YES.”