Feature

Seeds of Gold

Children of missionaries return to their roots

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My mom, C&MA missionary Gracie Cutts, used to give a message called “There Is Gold in Those Hills.” She used the illustration of how one man, believing that gold was hidden in the mountains of Papua, changed the fortunes of a well-known mining company. Against all odds this man worked on his own time, with his own equipment, to look for the gold he believed was there. Now that company reaps the benefit of the world’s biggest single deposit of gold. Mom, of course, told the story so that it was about the real “gold” in the mountains of Papua—human souls in need of Jesus.

As a child, I would sit at Mom’s feet as she taught in the Witness School, where new believers were discipled, and then again in the Bible school, where a four-year degree and ordination were offered. My dad, Bill Cutts, translated Bible verses for the men, and every weekend they would go to some of the most remote parts of the Moni area and teach the villagers the verses they had learned.

The students returned, telling of more distant villages that must hear the story of grace through Jesus. Some of the men were determined to reach these places. Many gave their lives trying. As I listened to these stories, I always thought, Someday, I will go there, too.

Hidden in the Hills

Last year I began to plan a tour of the Moni areas where my parents worked and where my brother, John, and his wife, Joy, still serve. I wanted to see for myself if the seed that they planted had fallen on fertile ground. Was their call worth it? Did it really make any difference to the Moni that my parents spent 40 years working to provide them with the gospel? Was there really still gold in those remote mountains?

For three weeks I trekked through some of the least accessible parts of Papua. These are the areas on the map that say “No data available.” I was guided by two pastors and two Christian men and was accompanied by John or Joy on several segments.

Some of our paths led through the deepest, thickest jungle you can imagine. Often, as we crested yet another mountain and the trees spanned out endlessly before us, the pastors would say, “Look! Over that mountain, there are five Moni churches. And look, over that ridge, there are three Moni churches. Tomorrow we will come to the first village, and in that valley, there will be six Moni churches!”

Secret Garden

As we entered villages where no white person had ever been, the people cried. The pastors of the churches cried. I cried!

Villagers asked me again and again to teach them a verse, tell them a Bible story and explain why I was there. I told them that I wanted to see for myself what had happened to the seed planted by my parents. I wanted them to know that the Cutts’s children had not forgotten them.

What I saw humbled and strengthened my faith. Throughout the farthest reaches of the Moni tribe, the seed my parents and their pupils planted is flourishing. The garden is growing, and it is beautiful and strong. Others have picked up the necessary tools, others are cultivating, others are weeding, others are pruning, but the garden has blossomed into something of great value and beauty!

“We Are Hungry”

When I would become frustrated with the mud, rain and yet another mountain to trek up, we would walk into a village where I was greeted like a long-lost family member. How often I would simply want to lay my weary body down at night, only to be awakened by a voice saying, “Mama, could you teach us more about Jesus? Would you and the pastors tell us more? We are hungry to know more.”

It was never too wet, never too late. And they seemed never too tired after a long day of working. They just wanted to hear more of the message of grace and love. Over and over the pastors said, “Why don’t you quote some of your favorite verses?” The hut would fill with voices, all reciting Scripture at once. This would go on for hours! I frequently fell asleep long before they were finished. The last sound I heard before drifting off would be Moni voices lifting their hearts to God.

When the three weeks drew to a close and the mission plane lifted off the ground, I knew I had become a different person. As we flew over the remote villages tucked within the steepest mountain ridges, I gazed down for a final look. This time, I didn’t wonder if there was gold in those mountains—I knew it was there.

I had seen it for myself.

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