Caleb Byerly dreamt of a strange tribal instrument, then went to the Philippines and found the same tribe he dreamt of in a far-flung mountain.
In 2013, I went to sleep one night, and I had a dream. In the dream, I saw a large tribe of people, and they were all reaching their hands out to me and calling my name. As I looked at them, I asked them what tribe they were and they said, “We are the Tinananon tribe.”
I had never heard of that word before. Then I saw the chief of this tribe, and he walked up to the front of all the people, carrying an instrument. The instrument was shaped like a bowl, and it was made out of metal. A wooden ring wrapped the bowl. Connected to the wooden ring were 30 strings that stretched from the outside of the bowl toward the middle. It was so fascinating! I leaned in, looked closely at the instrument, and then received a full “download” of all its dimensions. The chief put the instrument down on a table and began to play it. Heavenly music filled the air.
After that, I woke up. I immediately grabbed my journal and wrote everything I saw in the dream. I drew pictures of the instrument and wrote down that word, Tinananon, which I had never heard of before.
I was so interested in the instrument that I went into my workshop and began to re-create it. I tried and tried, but I just could not figure out how to do it. I eventually gave up because I kept breaking and snapping things and could not get what I was trying to do. I also researched what I could about that word Tinananon. I searched all of the archives from missions’ organizations to government databases but could not find anything. After months of asking around and searching, I gave up on it. I figured that it might have been one of those wild dreams that people have sometimes.
About six months later, I traveled across the Philippines. A man sat across me in a jam-packed jeepney. From the corner of my eye, I noticed that he was staring at me. I looked at him and began talking to him in Tagalog, his native language. As we had a conversation, I began to realize that he was a believer of Jesus Christ. We bared our hearts as we talked about our mutual love for Jesus. Then he Holy Spirit spoke to me saying, “Ask this man about the Tinananon tribe.” I was quite shocked and told the Lord, “No! I’m not asking a man about some random word that I heard in a random dream!” But the Lord insisted and said, “I want you to ask this man about the Tinananon.” So I built up the courage and asked the man, “Umm, Sir, do you happen to know Tinananon?” When I said that, his eyes brightened up, and he paused and stared at me. After a few seconds, he leaned in and asked, “How do you know my tribe?”
I didn’t know what to say, except: “I need to show you something.” I looked into my bag and grabbed my journal from 6 months before –the time I had that dream and had written down every detail about it. I showed him my journal where I wrote the word, Tinananon, which was the first time I had ever heard that word. He started shaking his head.
He looked at me and said, “You would not believe what I’m about to tell you. Remember earlier when I kept staring at you in the bus?”
I said, “Yeah, what was that about?”
“Well,” he said, “The reason I was staring at you is because I’ve seen you before! And just now, I realize where I saw you. It was also in a dream! Three years ago, God gave me a dream, and I saw you come to our people bringing the gospel to the Tinananon tribe!”
The man continued telling me about his tribe. “We are a scattered tribe of 100,000 people located in a mountain range that is cut off from the rest of society because it is surrounded by Islamic war camps for training warriors. This is one of the most dangerous places in the world. We are the native people of the land, but it is nearly impossible to go in and out of the area safely.”
At this point, I was convinced that all of this was from God. I told the man that before I went for a visit to his tribe, I would need to get back into the shop and try to make the instrument one more time. So I went back and got into the shop and worked another three months. I put all of my blood, sweat, tears, and money into making the instrument. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and insight. With His help and the help of my precious wife, we successfully created the instrument exactly as I saw it in the dream. I put the strings on the instrument and tuned it up. As I struck it for the first time, tears flowed down my face because I heard the exact sound from the dream. I knew I was ready to go!
Finishing the instrument was the first of my challenges. I didn’t realize the kind of adventure I was entering into until I arrived on the island again—this time, with the strange instrument in tow.
What happens next to Caleb? To the Salimbaa? To the Tinananon? To read PART 2 of this story, like us on Facebook or subscribe to onevoicemagazine.com. Subscription is free!