I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home. I came to Christ as a young girl and as a teenager I desired to serve God. I did not think about missions overseas at all because I really loved my home in Germany and pictured myself serving God there. When I got to know Ralf when I was 19, I surrendered my life in a new way to God and told God that I would be willing to do anything for Him, with Ralf or not, overseas or not. After Ralf returned from his mission trip to Senegal in 1996 where he learned that God wanted to use him in tribal missions, I felt like God was wanting me to do the same thing with him. We then started a relationship, got married a year later and right away went to NTM Bible School in England. We then did the NTM training in the USA, became friends with the Markleys and the Smiths, and came here to Papua New Guinea together in 2002. I have never regretted this decision to surrender my life to God in any way. Living and working here in Papua New Guinea is not always easy, but so fulfilling and rewarding because living with our wonderful God is just that!
– Ellie Schlegel
I got saved during a youth camp when I was 15 years old. During my time at college I went on a four-week mission trip to Senegal. As a trained carpenter, my desire was to do something good and help out. On that mission trip, I learned that there is still a huge number of people on this earth without access to the Gospel. Plus I learned during my time there that God uses ordinary people to bring His Word to those unreached people. On that trip I knew that God wanted to use me in some way to reach the unreached. Right there in that tribal village I told God, "Use me wherever You want to." And so here I am today, with my family, working among the Dinangat people in Papua New Guinea.
– Ralf Schlegel
I was born in a pretty rough neighborhood in South Boston, Massachusetts. I was raised in a single- parent home and my environment was one of drugs, alcohol and violence. As a young teen, my mother, brother, sister and I moved unexpectedly to rural Maine, and I look back and see how the Lord orchestrated every step of that move, literally lifting me up out of the pit. We ended up living in a small trailer home, 100 yards away from Searsport Baptist Church. It was there that I met my Savior, the One Who is perfect, and Who paid the ultimate price that I could not pay, releasing me from the bondage of sin that I might enter into an eternal relationship with Him—the One Who created me. I rejoiced at the freedom He offered. It was only a couple of years later, after listening to several missionary speakers, that I realized that the Lord wanted me to do more than enjoy my Christianity. He wanted me to give my life to showing others His goodness and grace.
– April Markley
As the son of missionaries, I grew up exposed to missions from the time I was born. I had met hundreds of missionaries and heard many stories of the need for more people to go to the unreached peoples in the world. However, the need alone, although convicting, didn’t propel me towards missions. It was a short-term mission trip to Papua New Guinea when I was 16 that the Lord used to really burden my heart. It was seeing the need, meeting people face-to-face who had never heard the saving message in their own language and who had no hope for eternity. I knew then that God wanted me to spend my life reaching those who otherwise would not have an opportunity to hear the Gospel.
– Jeremiah Markley
After I became a Christian, the Lord began to develop in me a passion for people. I got involved in my local church teaching and preaching. God began to work in my heart and show me that there are millions of people who do not understand the Gospel, millions who do not understand what He has done for them. During a two-month mission trip to Haiti, I saw the huge need for more laborers. God’s compassion for sheep without a shepherd jumped out at me from the pages of Scripture. At the same time, God brought Esther into my life, and she had this same compassion for those who need Christ. God pointed us to the mission field and nothing gives us greater joy than following His leading to go to a place where there is no church, introduce the people to our incredible Father and leave an indigenous, functioning, mature church.
– Gary Smith
I was born to parents who were in training with New Tribes Mission. I was 3 when we moved to Senegal, and I spent most of my first 18 years there. The Lord used my childhood to open my eyes to the desperate need of people around the world to hear the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. I came to know Christ at a very young age and continued to learn what it means to have a relationship with God and walk with Him daily. My dad used to say that telling people about Jesus and the message of salvation was the greatest work we could do on earth. Growing up as a child of missionaries, I became very familiar with the Great Commission. Christ’s promise—“I am with you always”—is most comforting when we must step out into the unknown. We know that He will always be with us to guide and help us.
– Esther Smith