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How a strange musical instrument opened the door for the Gospel

God Reports talks about the intriguing dream given to Caleb Byerly, a missionary to the Philippines, that opened the door to the Gospel being preached to a small isolated tribal group numbering about 100,000 in that country.

Caleb was home in North Carolina in 2014 when he received a descriptive dream that so impacted him, he wrote down all its details the next day.

In the dream, he was in a mountainous region of the Philippines, and he encountered a group of people he had never heard of before called the Tinananon.

The leader of the group was also carrying a musical instrument and when the chief started playing it the people began dancing and singing.

During his dream, Caleb focused on the unusual round bowl-like instrument that had strings attached on the outer edge that crisscrossed and were attached to a cone in the centre of the bowl.

Caleb felt that God was inviting him to reach out to this group.

But his confidence in the dream faded as he could find no reference to the Tinananon tribe in his online searches and discussions with other missionary groups who worked in the Philippines. It was further frustrated by repeated failure to recreate the unusual instrument that seemed to be the focus of his dream.

But everything changed six months later, when he was back in the Philippines for missionary work, and he encountered a man while travelling on a bus. After a brief conversation, he found out that Manigos was a believer.

But then the Holy Spirit began bugging Caleb to ask the man about the Tinananon.

Because he had drawn blanks in his previous research on the group, Caleb resisted, not really convinced they actually existed. But when the thoughts wouldn’t go away, he finally asked Manigos if he had heard of the Tinananon.

Manigos was equally shocked by the question, because he was from the largely unknown Tinananon Tribe, that existed in a mountainous region of the Philippines.

After telling his story, Caleb then invited Manigos to his home, so he could look at the journal post he had written about his Tinananon dream six months earlier. Both believed that God had divinely setup this appointment.

Caleb was scheduled to return to his home in North Carolina, but arranged to have Manigos take him to visit his tribe when Caleb returned to the Philippines.

After returning to North Carolina, Caleb decided to take a second run at creating the instrument he saw in his dream. After praying for help from the Holy Spirit, he was able to overcome the obstacles he encountered in his first attempt and made a decent replica of what he saw.

With the instrument in tow, Caleb returned to the Philippines, where he, Manigos and another missionary used a lone motorcycle to make the treacherous journey into the mountains to visit Manigos’ tribe.

Little did Caleb know that this instrument would be the key to opening the door to the gospel in this isolated group.

As they were travelling, the Lord spoke to Caleb again that he needed to give this instrument as a gift to the chief.

When the chief unwrapped the blanket and saw the instrument, stunned he asked Caleb where he got it from. Caleb quickly recounted the dream and his effort to reproduce the instrument.

The chief said it was an ancient tribal instrument called a Salimbaa and took them to a building in the village referred to as a house of prayer. Inside there were other native instruments hanging on one of the walls.

The chief told them that each of the instruments were for worship of a specific god such as the god of the trees and god of the rivers and stones.

Then he pointed to a blank spot on the wall and said that was the spot for the Salimbaa that had been lost over a hundred years ago in a battle with a neighbouring tribe.

The chief explained that the Salimbaa was for the worship of their main God Manama. The other instruments were for the lesser gods or angels that God had sent to earth to look after the various parts of the earth.

However, when they lost the Salimbaa, the Tinananon started worshipping the smaller gods instead.

But with the Salimbaa back, the tribe could now worship the true God.

With this opening, over the next three days, Caleb shared the Gospel about Jesus the son of God with the chief, but it wasn’t until after Caleb left that the chief became a Christian, after a personal encountered with Christ in the mountains.

Since then, Caleb and his group, Evergreen Missions, have established four churches made up of hundreds of believes in the tribal group and are now working on a Bible translation in their language.

This is not the first time we have heard of something like this. The Bible records how the Holy Spirit directed Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey.

Paul was accompanied by Silas and Timothy and the plan was for them to go through Galatia, strengthening the churches that had been previously started, and then move southwest into a region that had not yet received the Gospel.

But they felt the Holy Spirit restraining them, so they continued preaching the word in Asia (Acts 16:6-8).

Sensing the Holy Spirit was not wanting them to go south, the group decided to head north to an uncharted area along the coast of the Black Sea, but again they felt the Holy Spirit blocking this direction (Acts 16:6-7),

We are not told how they sensed this, just that the Holy Spirit was speaking to them.

With the Holy Spirit having blocked them from going West and North, the group decided to head to Troas and with them now going in the direction that God had for them, that night that Paul received a vision of a man from Macedonia, beckoning them to come help (Acts 16:9).

As a result of this vision, the group headed to Philippi, the capital city of the district of Macedonia (Acts 16:11-12).

And similar to Caleb, guided by the Holy Spirit, they started churches in Philippi, Corinth and Thessalonica.

The prophet Joel tells us that God will pour out Holy Spirit in the end times resulting in God communicating with people through dreams and visions (Joel 2:28-29).

For more on Caleb’s incredible story READ: Dream led to stolen ‘golden bowl’ instrument and hidden tribe

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