Ron and Avis Bodin served with NTM for thirty nine years – three years in Venezuela and the rest at the US headquarters. Both are children of New Tribes missionaries and both were raised in a boarding school. In fact, they actually met in Bolivia when Avis was three.
Avis’ father, Dave Bacon, was one of the first martyrs of the mission attempting to reach the Ayore tribe in Bolivia. Even after that took place, Avis’ mother chose to continue ministering in Bolivia… and did so for four years! Avis’ salvation came when she was five. She attended a revival meeting with her grandmother and when the invitation came, she knew she needed to be saved. Her grandmother wanted her to wait until her mom came home, but Avis marched forward because she wanted to be saved right then. (When Avis was twelve, her mother remarried.)
Ron was not saved until he was fifteen. He thought he was already saved because his parents had joined NTM, guaranteeing his salvation… he thought. An event on the field made him realize he had to make his own decision for Christ. Ron was a twin, and where the family was serving in Bolivia, the tribal people thought twins were evil and buried alive the second born. His parents took their twins out to the Indians, even knowing they might kill Ron, the second born, so they could see twins were not evil. God spared his life and used the threat to impress on Ron that had he died, he would have entered a Christless eternity.
Outreach was natural for them both as Avis always knew her heart’s desire was to share the Gospel and for Ron because his father was part of the group which founded AWANA where he served in his younger years, and later with Royal Ambassadors. Ron also served in the United States Navy for six years during which time he turned his back on God. But God persisted and brought him back and led him into missions.
Missionary training for Ron and Avis took place in Wisconsin and Florida. Soon thereafter they headed overseas. While serving in Venezuela, Avis was mom to their girls. They lived in the village allowing her to spend time visiting the Piaroa Indians and getting to know them, their culture and language. (Ron was also on the first contact to reach the highly feared Yuana tribe.)
Challenges on the field for Ron were learning the language and dealing with interpersonal relationships, all of which the Lord used to bring glory to Himself. Avis had four things she asked of God: a doctor close by, a mountain she could see (she was raised in the Andes), their own house, and grandparents close by for her girls (the village chief and his wife took on their kids). God granted each one. The only obstacle she could recall was being afraid for Ron’s well-being when he reached out to threatening tribal peoples. A fellow missionary prayed with her through whom God gave her His peace.
They were then transferred to headquarters where Ron did maintenance temporarily until he was needed in bookkeeping.
After years overseas, Ron and Avis returned to the US and served in Florida where Ron was involved in maintenance and bookkeeping. They retired in 2007 and Ron passed away in 2014.
Would they do it all again? Definitely! Both wanted to follow in their parents’ footsteps… and so they did!