Earlier this summer, we told you that 2012 marks 50 years of the Sawi tribe faithfully following Christ. Together with his sons, missionary Don Richardson reunited with the Sawi to celebrate their perseverance.
What would it be like to capture that reunion on film?
"It was very exciting and moving just to be there to observe," says Never the Same producer Matt Green with Pioneers USA.
In 1962, missionaries Don and Carol Richardson arrived in West Papua, Indonesia carrying their 7-month-old son, Steven, toward the cannibalistic Sawi tribe. At the time, they didn't realize that arriving with an infant in tow was a sign of peace. In the coming years, Steve–and later his 3 siblings–grew up among the Sawi, learning the language and embracing the culture.
Fast-forward 50 years. Don and his sons Steve, Shannon, and Paul return to the Sawi village where their story began. A plethora of questions burdened their hearts: Will anyone remember the mark their family left on the tribe? What's the state of the church they planted? Are their friends still alive?
"It was quite an emotional experience for [Don] to return and to not be sure who would be there to greet him," says Green.
They were told that 2,000 or 3,000 Sawi would be there to welcome their arrival, and that 50 new believers wanted to be baptized.
"When the float plane arrived, we were surprised to see several thousand people lined up on the shore," recounts Green. "When the family stepped out of the plane, there was a lot of cheering and shouting, and people dressed in traditional clothing to celebrate their return."
After the Sunday service, Don and some church elders stepped into the river, expecting to baptize the 50 new believers standing on shore. God had something else in mind.
Green says, "While they were being baptized, there were 200 or so additional people that the Lord was working with, and they came forward and asked to be baptized as well."
The Richardsons' full story is chronicled in a book called Peace Child, which has inspired many to enter the mission field. It has also become a full-length feature movie. Green hopes this video will have the same effect.
"The Sawi are not the last tribe to be reached," explains Green. "There are still other tribes globally that have yet to hear the Gospel. Our hope is that people would be stimulated to imagine where God might want them."
Ask God about your role in the Great Commission: whether to pray, give, or go.
"Whether it's simply praying for those who are going, or praying for those who have yet to hear; or whether it's investing financially…or whether it's someone who is considering taking a step and investing not just their money but also their life into what God is doing globally," says Green, "we would hope a video like this would help engage people's imaginations to see that it's possible.
"It's possible to go to a place like this that is very lost and in a darkened place spiritually, and to see what God can do through simple obedience."
Never the Same premieres today; you can watch it by clicking here.