It was a week of training that Susie Locklin won’t soon forget. She was in Tanzania for PGA training.
“No, PGA doesn’t have anything to do with golf,” Susie said.
Actually, in Susie’s context, taking PGA instruction meant participating in NTM’s People Group Assessment training.
People Group Assessments help New Tribes Mission assign missionaries to strategic locations. The goal is to gather enough information about a group of people to be able to plan wisely how to deploy the right resources for helping a given people group have the opportunity to hear the gospel in their heart language.
“But we didn’t just look at criteria,” Susie says. “We also learned how to measure the criteria and how to do research. Doing this includes interviewing missionaries and pastors who know that group of people, doing multilingualism questionnaires, talking to government officials and visiting with village chiefs.”
Soon it was time to put the training to good use. Susie and several other missionaries had a specific group to assess.
“We made it to our destination and back safely,” she writes. Their goals had been to determine what daily reality looked like in that tribe, to see if an earlier report done in 2007 still accurately represented this people group and to find out if these people had become multilingual or were still using their own language.
“We were able to accomplish all our goals in those few short days,” writes Susie.
The first day, they met with government officials to explain what they were planning to do and got permission to proceed.
The following day, after meeting with several more officials, Susie and her co-workers were able to visit with people in the village where they would be staying. “We collected a 200-word list ... in their language and went through questionnaires with over a dozen people. We asked questions about which languages they know, which ones they prefer and how they choose which language to speak.”
The next day included a boat ride and then hiking to three different villages where they visited with people and filled out more questionnaires. Then more government official talks and another 200-word list to compare how the language is spoken in various areas.
The following day, it was time to leave on the 12-hour trip for home.
Susie writes to share a little of what she learned: “The people speak many different languages, but it was clear that they much prefer their own language. … They like to speak their heart language and believe that when their children grow up, they will still speak their native language to their children. It doesn’t appear that they will lose their language any time soon.”
People Group Assessments are important in helping ensure that unreached people have an opportunity to hear the gospel.
Susie’s training helped her learn to accurately gather information and assess the criteria to ensure that church-planting teams are strategically placed.
“It was an exhausting, but great trip,” Susie says. “God is good!”