When I finished building the tribal instrument from my dream, I bought my ticket to fly to the island where the Tinananontribe was located. This was the tribe that I had miraculously dreamt about! I traveled to 10 and a half hours to the border of the mountain range. My friend and ministry partner, Ansulao, traveled with me. We met the man at the foothills of the mountain range, making sure that the instrument was covered up for safety. All three of us hopped on a motorbike and started off along a beaten path into the mountain.
The path that we took was immediately difficult to negotiate. Ansulao, the driver, had to put all of his focus and strength into keeping us from flying off the motorbike. Looking into the sky, my heart sank as I saw a huge dark cloud coming toward us. Before long, a storm swept through and flooded the whole mountain. It was as if a river flowed down the whole mountainside. Our motorbike trudged through the flood. We fought through the mountain and got to a point where there was a steep cliff. We stopped and looked down from the edge of the mountain.
A small hanging bridge made of two ropes and wooden planks connected the two mountains. That was our only way across. We thought about it. Were we going to risk our lives by crossing the shaky bridge, or should we just turn back and return home? We had to think quickly because another storm was coming.
We decided to go for it. Our motorbike entered the bridge, but we realized that we couldn’t stay for long because the rope would snap. Ansulao hit the throttle. As the bridge swung to the right, we leaned to the left. As it swung to the left, we leaned to the right. Thankfully, we finally got to the other side of the cliff. But as soon as we got there, Ansulao lost control of the motorbike. He tried to keep a hold of it, but we hit a large stone and went flying. As we were in mid-air, I thought about my pregnant wife and the baby in her womb. What would happen if I didn’t make it back to them?
Suddenly, we landed on the ground. I looked down and saw that we lay on a bed of soft green grass! I had no idea how that happened! God saved us from falling off the cliff and that’s all I knew. We hopped back onto the motorbike and went to the tribe.
I looked at the people and saw how their faces were the same faces from my dream. This was the place! As we entered their community, the Holy Spirit spoke to me again. He said, “I want you to take the instrument to the chief.”
“The chief?” I thought for a second and wondered if there was even a chief among theTinananon. But at that point, I had already gone so far, so I just kept going. We asked them if they had a chieftain. Ansulao translated for me.
“He is on the other side of the mountain.” They pointed directions. “Three and a half hours that way.”
We got back onto the motorbike and continued our journey. We arrived at the old wooden house where they said the chief was located. After we knocked on the rotting wooden door, an elderly man opened it and stood there.
I politely asked him, “Are you the chief?”
He quietly and slowly said, “Yes I am.”
“We are traveling to your tribe for the first time. Before I go to different places in your tribe, I just want to give this to you.” I handed the instrument to him.
His eyes widened, alarmed. He took the instrument and placed it on a table. He stared at it as if he were frightened. He intently observed every detail and dimension of the instrument.
He looked at me and said, “Where did you get this from?”
I said, “Well, I just made it.”
He stared at me and asked again, “Where did you get this from?”
I replied, “Seriously, I just had some ideas about making it, and I just made it.”
He shook his head, looking down and said for the third time, “I’m serious. Where did you get this instrument from?”
I said, “Okay, months ago, I had a dream where I heard for the first time the name of your tribe, the Tinananon.” I explained further. “And I also got the full design of this instrument. I believe my God gave me this dream.”
He looked at me curiously and said, “Do you know what this is?”
“Truthfully, no, I don’t.”
“I have something to show you.” He took me around the back to another small house. Opening another wooden door, I peeked into the room and saw many ancient articles from his tribe. He had old clay and metal bowls, pottery work, and clothing from hundreds of years ago. This was tangible evidence that the Tinananon tribe had been existing for centuries.
Then there was a whole wall of ancient instruments. There were drums, stringed instruments, and bells. But there was one section on the wall that was empty.
He pointed to that section and said, “Over a century ago, our most sacred instrument was taken away from us. It was called theSalimbaa. We believe the enemy took the instrument away, but that one day, the God of all gods will restore the instrument back to us. We also believe that the time the Creator restores the Salimbaa back to us also means that God is coming back to the Earth to restore His people.”
He paused for a few seconds and then looked back at me with fire in his eyes. “The instrument that you brought today is the Salimbaa! We believe that God brought you, a messenger, to us to let us know that He is coming back soon!”
I was surprised and unsure of how to respond to everything that was happening. I actually didn’t expect any of this! But at the same time, I knew I could always expect God to do great things. I recognized that God was doing something marvelous at that moment.
They immediately brought the leaders of the tribe together to dedicate the Salimbaa back to God. They set the instrument back in its place.
The leaders prayed. “God, today we ordain Your servant Caleb as one of our leaders.” They came to me and placed a headpiece of a chief on my shoulders. “Here is the key to our tribe.” They said. “Whatever you decide, we will follow.”
In humility, I asked them, “If there’s anything that I can do for you, what would it be?”
The chief replied, “If there’s anything that you can do, I want you to do this for us: help us translate your book into our language.”
I was thrilled! I leaned in and said, “Are you talking about the Bible?”
Then he said, “Yes!”
Since that time, the Lord has allowed me to stand in front of the CEOs of Wycliffe Bible translators and other Bible-translation organizations around the world. I’ve been able to present the Tinananon tribe to them, and they have agreed on starting a Bible-translation project! In 2015, the Bible translation project was initiated, and it is continuing until the complete Bible is finished in their language!