Connie and Mary Cain served with New Tribes Mission for 36 years – seven years in Venezuela and twenty-nine in Colombia.
Connie wasn’t saved until he was 21 years old. Immediately he wanted to “do something for the Lord.” He wondered what he could do. Being a pastor or missionary meant he needed a college education. He had broken his ankle after 8th grade and never returned to school. He had just gotten a job and started working. (That was not unusual in those days.)
Connie met Mary in church and it wasn’t long before they were married. After three and a half years of college Connie began pastoring a little country church while also working a side job. Glen and Billy Prunty were in New Tribes Mission at that time and challenged them to “Go to NTM!” Connie thought this sounded wonderful and figured the people group he would minister to wouldn’t have much education either. By then the Cains had two children and a third on the way. They did their missionary training in California and Wisconsin before heading off to Venezuela with $60 a month promised support.
Connie and Mary initially worked in a small jungle town printing Bible portions and song books for missionaries in remote locations. At this time Sophie Mueller also needed printed literature for the many areas where she was teaching. The Cains went to the field intending to go to the Yanomamo work, but were needed for a different task… serving others in a support role. That meant being away from their children, often for nine months at a time… but Connie and Mary knew they could not adequately teach them at home. Years later the Cains were able to serve at the school for missionary children in Colombia and had the opportunity to be near their children and serve at the same time. They also found this much better for Mary’s health and were meeting a great need on the field at this time. So they rejoice that God is so good!
When asked about their biggest testing of their faith, Connie stated years ago, “It is with great joy that we saw several of our grown children take the NTM training and serve the Lord in evangelism. Mary and I were serving at the NTM missionary school center. I was the school ‘handy man’ and did whatever was needed. Mary taught some classes and was the mission’s radio network operator and also monitored flights for the pilots. Our son, Tim, and his wife Bunny were working in a jungle village… a two-hour flight away. This particular day there was no answer to our call so we knew something had happened. Mary did not leave the radio for 36 hours! We knew guerillas were in their area and it was soon determined that Tim and Bunny had been kidnapped. Their two daughters, ages 6 and 9 were with us at the school for missionary children and the Field Leadership decided it was best if Mary took them back to the U.S. for security reasons. I, Connie, stayed in Colombia to help where ever possible. The hardest part was that it seemed there was nothing we could do. There was no way to get in there, as no flights were allowed. Mary and I suffered the greatest sorrow in our lives knowing our kids and two best friends were in the hands of men whose aim in life was very different than our own. Finally a group from the army did go in there, but they found that most of the villagers had left and Tim and Bunny’s house was empty. Nine days later our pilot, NTM missionary Paul Dye, escaped miraculously with the plane. The Colombian government met with the guerillas and reminded them that they had signed a “no kidnapping” policy and needed to let these folks go immediately. Thankfully, to make a long story short, they were all safely returned.”
Connie and Mary say that although this was the hardest time of their lives, they are still happy their kids have gone to the mission field and wouldn’t want it any other way. Their son, Mark and his wife Joyce also work in Colombia with the Guahibo People doing Bible translation. Their daughter, Chabela married Paul Keefe and they are also serving with NTM in Colombia. What a heritage!
Much can be learned from their experience… both for missionaries going overseas and for those of us here in the States… trust God to meet all of your needs! Be flexible to whatever comes your way. Be committed to the job of getting the Gospel to those who have never heard!
If you are interested in knowing more about the Cains and the work of the Lord in South America, look for the following items on Amazon.com:
God at the Controls (by Jean Dye Johnson) is a book which tells about the kidnapping in this post.
When Things Seem Impossible is the DVD video version of the same story.
One Way Ticket to the Jungle Please and Bringing the Boys Home is about the Cain’s ministry in Venezuela and Columbia.