God Blessed the Broken Road…That Led Us Straight to Him
Well, that’s a fine looking family sitting on the front porch of a proper village house in Papua New Guinea. That Denise, Ruth, me and Anna in March 1990. The location is Kaukambar village on the North Coast of Papua New Guinea. Are these people okay? Oh definitely not. Their three year old is standing there in her underwear holding a cup of coffee. The six year old is wearing long pants on the equator at high noon. I weigh about about 130 pounds after several rounds with various diseases. Denise is the only one that looks halfway normal. But we are right where the Lord wanted us on that hot dry season afternoon. The following overview of Denise and me is a testament to the Lord’s sovereign timing and good will to us over the years. He’s always on time and He is always faithful. As you read this history of us look for His fingerprints. They are all over this story. Keep reading….
Tim’s Story: I Ain’t Forgetting Where I Come From
The temperature got up to 107 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona the day I was born. It was actually cooler than the previous day but that’s typical midsummer heat in the Valley of the Sun. In the final hour of that June 25th, 1953, Edward and Marjorie Sieges welcomed two new additions to their family. I was born at 11:01 PM and my brother, Terry came along ten minutes later. From that moment on, being a twin was an identity that definitely framed my life and I consider myself blessed to have a brother like Terry. We were close throughout our growing up years and I miss him. You can read my tribute to him in the posting entitled: “Saying Goodbye to My Brother.”
Farm Boy Growing Up Out West
My home throughout my upbringing would always be a farm or ranch in the western US. During my first eight years of life, Dad was a cotton farmer and Mom a fulltime mother and housewife in Buckeye, Arizona. In December 1961, we moved to Oregon’s Willamette Valley where Dad had purchased a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
An old farmhouse on Rattlesnake Creek Road outside of Dexter, Oregon would be my home for the remainder of my childhood. My parents had both become Christians when I was a baby and had been involved in church for several years. However, they quit attending church when Terry and I were fairly young. I don’t recall seeing that as a problem at the time and developed my own strategies for living without any acknowledgement of Christ in my life. My beliefs and attitudes when I left home in the Fall of 1971 looked like any other well mannered, fashionably rebellious non-Christian teenager of the era. I continued to order my life around the values of the culture and what made sense to me at the time…until the Lord got my attention during my sophomore year in college. January 1973 found me attending a little Baptist college in Portland, Oregon.
Judson Baptist College, Rocky Butte, Oregon
Judson Baptist College doesn’t exist on Rocky Butte anymore but the Lord used that school in a special way while it was there. At the prompting of an old high school buddy, I transferred to Judson from the state university I attended the previous year. Kip Holbrook and I were close childhood friends and had kept in touch after high school graduation. He was a serious Christian who had talked with me about my faith (or lack of it) on numerous occasions. I wasn’t interested in the Lord but I was interested in playing baseball in Portland.
Kip and I had played high school baseball together and at our respective colleges our freshman year. He encouraged me to come play baseball at Judson but he also had an agenda about me coming to know Christ. When I arrived on campus, I made it extremely clear that I was only there to play ball and wasn’t interested in the whole “Christian thing.” As a matter of fact, I quickly developed a reputation at the school as someone who was openly antagonistic to the faith. I was available to argue and debate “religion” with anyone who wanted to take me on. I predictably brought out all the regular “gotcha” arguments about Christianity like “what about the guys in Africa who have never heard about Christ, how can they go to Hell” and “what about all the hypocrites in the church” .
I felt like I could hold my own pretty well in a debate until my opponent would bring up the Word of God. It was really weird but I would be thinking I had the upper hand in the argument until a young Christian would say, “But, Tim, the Bible says…” and I would be stopped short in my point. The screen would just go blank for me. Many of you understand that I’m not someone who is easily silenced…especially when I think I’m right. This Bible lock-up dynamic started to really bother me especially after it happened numerous times. I decided I needed to read the Bible so I could turn the tables on these Christians. Since it consistently silenced me, maybe I could use it to silence them.
I borrowed a Bible from my buddy, Kip and started reading. The more I read, the more amazed I was at what the Lord had to say to me in His Word. I knew Bible stories from childhood but I didn’t know the Lord of the stories. The more I read the Scripture the more I became convinced that I needed to know the Lord of the Book. So, through reading the Word (in my own language, by the way) and the patient urging of Christian friends, I gave my entire heart and soul to Jesus Christ. I made an absolute and utter sell out to the Lord in the winter of 1973…and I would never…ever be the same again.
I felt like the Lord was leading me to learn more about my faith and since Judson was just a two year school, I headed south to only other Christian school I knew about. The journey took me to Phoenix, Arizona and Grand Canyon College (now University). At Grand Canyon I took Bible classes from the most awesome professors: Dr. Niles Puckett, Dr. DC Martin, and Dr. Bill Hinze. My faith was disciplined by the Word during my time at GCU. Dr. Hinze taught me that biblical doctrine was not a bad word. I learned that our faith is grounded in the Gospel of grace and reconciliation in Christ. I was blessed to have such godly influences in my young Christian life. Again, the Word of God was the central to establishing my identity in the faith.
Denise’s Story in Her Own Words: Riverside, Iowa: Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk
Yes, that is one of the claims to fame of my hometown, Riverside, IA. How did Riverside become the birthplace of a star ship commander? The answer to that question is still unknown. Suffice it to say that the little farm town of my childhood was the birthplace of the future Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, in the year 2233. It is our only claim to fame, except my birth, in the year 1955. I grew up the middle child of Alvin and Mary Yeggy, prominent farmers in the area. We were a Catholic farm family, as were most of our neighbors, hence Mom and Dad had 7 kids, the neighbors down the road had 12. When they sent out a school bus, our neighborhood filled it up in about 4 stops. The St. Mary’s Catholic church in Riverside and sports cast a long shadow over my formative years. Still, my family was the hub around which everthing turned. It has been at least thirty five years since I left home and my brothers (Gerry and Tom) and sisters (Kathy, Janice, Nancy, and Mary Ellen) are still close. We live in various places around the USA but still love getting together whenever we can.
After I left home in 1973, I attended Iowa Wesleyan College on a basketball scholarship. My junior year of college found me transferring to the University Iowa in Iowa City pretty close to my dad’s farm. (Go Hawkeyes) After graduation, with a degree in Recreational Therapy, I got my first “real job” working at a group home for the developmentally disabled in St. Paul, Minnesota.
A Good Catholic Girl Buys a Bible
And that is where the plot thickened! Growing up, although I was a “good Catholic girl” I never heard about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At the care facility that I worked at in St. Paul, Minnesota, a co-worker started sharing his faith with me, telling me about how I could come to know Christ in a personal way. This was all news to me and my colleague had to go over the concept of salvation by grace through faith many times.
Several weeks later I bought a Bible, and started to soak it up like a sponge. Some of the passages, especially having to do with submission, I chaffed at. (Hey, it was the 70’s and I was a big time women’s libber!) Eventually the Lord convicted me thoroughly, and I gave my life to Him on February 14, 1979. Oh, yeah, that co-worker who was so patient in sharing the gospel with me daily for 6 months? I married him that next year! It has been a special privilege I have kept close to my heart, that Tim Sieges led me to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Our life now, almost 30 years later, is as much of an adventure as it was when I walked down that isle to be married, at Danforth Chapel on the University of Iowa campus, many moons ago.
Married, Montana, Missions
Denise and I (Tim’s writing again) date our “calling” to missions back to the early years of marriage in Bozeman, Montana. Spring 1981 found us living, working, playing, and me in graduate school at Montana State University. I was studying for a master’s degree in counseling and we were blessed to be a part of a dynamic Bible teaching church called Grace Bible Church.
Through the faithful teaching ministry of pastors Arch Rutherford and Brian Hughes, Denise and I were growing stronger in our Christian walk. Grace is not only a church dedicated to “holding forth the Word of Truth” but it is also an extremely mission minded church. We were consistently confronted with not only the importance of God’s Word but the needs of world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We loved life in Bozeman.
Well, I don’t know anyone who has been there that doesn’t love the Gallatin Valley. By the time 1986 rolled around, we had started a family, had good jobs, a great church, terrific friends and a bright future under the Big Sky. That’s also when we decided to leave.
Bozeman Already Had Over 500 Really Good English Translations of the Bible
Denise and I became aware of Bible translation through friends at Grace, Gary and Judy Anderson. Gary and Judy had left Bozeman the previous year to join Wycliffe Bible Translators. The more we heard them tell about millions of people around world who didn’t have a single word of Scripture in their own language, the more we were uncomfortable in our terrific Montana lifestyle.
Denise and I knew that the key to our spiritual growth was the Word of God…in our own language. We knew that the Word was absolutely indispensable for knowing Christ and growing in the faith. We really believed that. The issue of the preeminence of God’s Word was totally settled in our minds. The questions followed: So you really believe that, huh? Really? If the Bible is such a big deal, then how can you sit on an abundance of God’s revelation and let millions go with nothing…if it’s all that important to you? We were challenged to put our lives where our mouths were. They already had the Bible in their own language in Bozeman, Montana (actually there are over 500 different English Bible translations). What were Denise and I willing to do about the people who didn’t have a single word of Scripture in their own language? The Lord brought these understandings and questions together with the knowledge of an organization that was willing to do something about the issue. We attended Wycliffe’s orientation program in December 1986; were accepted as members in February 1987 and have served in the organization in Dallas, TX; Papua New Guinea; Waxhaw, NC.
Those questions are still relevant to Denise and me. And our lives are still answering them.
At this writing, there are still 380 million people on earth who do not have adequate Scriptures in their languages. There is no translation project yet begun for the speakers of 2,737 languages. The answer to the above questions are still the same. Before his death in 1982, Wycliffe founder William Cameron Townsend said, “Beloved, by love serve one another. Finish the task. Translate the Scripture into every language.” That’s also still our answer.