SAMAR, PHILIPPINES (BP)--The motor roars from the back of the boat as the vessel speeds along the Oras River, a body of water cutting through the island of Samar in the Philippines. Nearly 30 people sit on the boat's wooden slats, holding their possessions. A bagged chicken wiggles and clucks on the floorboards. The motor whirrs too loudly for conversation, so the passengers sit in silence, watching children play by thatched huts on the banks.
Esther Tallbott* sits three seats from the back of the boat. She clutches a pen, underlining sentences in John Piper's "Stand," a collection of essays on endurance. This moment sums up Tallbott's last two years as a journeyman missionary for the International Mission Board -- thatched huts, whirring boats and endurance.
The 25-year-old single woman spends several days a week riding down the river to reach villages so deep in the jungle that no roads reach them. Sometimes she knows people in the villages, but most often, she doesn't. She steps up on a dock with her Filipino ministry partner, Charity Malinao, and asks where they can hang their hammocks.
Then the two share the Gospel with the kind family who takes them in for the night. As they play with the children and hang out with their hosts, the ministry partners gently bring biblical truths to bear on the mixture of Catholic and animistic traditions the villagers hold.
"My greatest joy has been to see baby believers who don't know they are baby believers start to walk around ... to see the Gospel set people free like it's set me free," the journeyman says. Read More