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Founders

Paul Fleming

Paul Fleming

Inspired by the ministry of Paul Rader, a football player and wrestler, Mr. Fleming gave his life for a world challenge. After his marriage to Cherrill, the two of them spent several years in British Malaya but were forced to leave due to his multiple, debilitating attacks of malaria and multiple, poisoning doses of quinine. They returned to the United States, much to Paul’s dismay.

Paul Fleming still had the burning desire to see the unreached tribes of the world reached with the gospel. The urgency of the task gripped his heart. The burden to reach the “last tribe” became a driving force in Paul’s life. And despite declining health, Paul pressed on. As he challenged people to go to the unreached, Paul found men and women who were ready to give their lives to serve the Lord on the foreign field facing rejection by the mission boards of the day — or the mission boards were ready to send them to the cities of foreign fields, but not to the remote locations where unreached tribal people lived.

For some time, Paul had been fighting against the idea of starting yet another mission board. But as time went on, what had begun as a growing impression that there could be a need for a new channel for getting missionaries to the foreign field was fast becoming a conviction. Therefore, in the spring of 1942, Paul Fleming with three other men of like faith and desire to see the unreached people groups of the world evangelized started New Tribes Mission. Those three men were Lance Latham, M. Robert Williams, and Cecil Dye.

In July of 1942, the first Executive Committee meeting of New Tribes Mission took place in Camp Mishawana in Michigan. It was at this meeting that Paul was selected as the director of NTM.

Paul Fleming died in the airplane crash of the Tribesman II, NTM’s C-47, on November 21, 1950.

Cecil A. Dye

Cecil Dye

Raised in a Christian home, Cecil attended Bible school and then a Christian university with plans to enter the ministry. But after graduating, the pull of secular business was strong. Living in the bustling city of Detroit, he saw how his skillset blended well with the secular business world. Thoughts of ministry faded into the background as his life became consumed by these interests.

It took a near-fatal burst appendix to turn his eyes back to God -- and it also introduced him to his future wife. He knew God had other things for him. Knowing he was headed to the mission field, and not willing to risk veering from the course again, Cecil sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk with Dorothy Gray. He loved this woman and was ready to propose, but he needed to know she was willing to be a missionary right alongside him before he could take the relationship to the next level.

He didn’t have anything to be worried about. Dorothy was ready to say yes on both counts. The two were married and began the journey into missions together. The problem was no mission board would send them into pioneer missions. Then they met Paul Fleming; the Dyes and Paul shared not only a mutual determination to give their lives unreservedly for world evangelization but a mutual desire to see others become effective channels in God’s hands.

Cecil was part of the founding group of men who started New Tribes Mission in 1942. Indeed, he was one of the original four men on New Tribes Mission’s first committee. When the first Executive Committee meeting took place in July of 1942, he was named NTM’s foreign field representative.

Cecil Dye was one of five missionaries who lost their lives in NTM’s first endeavor, attempting to contact the Ayorés in Bolivia in 1943. Martyred with Cecil were his brother, Bob Dye, along with George Hosback, Dave Bacon and Eldon Hunter.

Lance B. (Doc) Latham

Doc Latham, 1949

Raised as the son of a Presbyterian minister in Chesterton, Pa., Lance Latham studied the Bible at five o'clock each morning. By the age of seven, he had memorized three books of the Bible.

He attended private school, where he studied Greek, Latin and German, and entered college at the age of 14. He also studied piano at the Philadelphia Conservatory. He held a master's degree in biochemistry from Haverford College.

Mr. Latham was the pastor of the North Side Gospel Center of Chicago, Illinois, before he met Paul Fleming. He is another (like Paul) who was challenged to missions by that great athlete Paul Rader. Mr. Latham was well known for his outstanding work as a musician, for his work in the radio ministry, for his work as a Bible teacher as well as for being the director of Camp Mishawana, one of the Midwest’s best known Bible camps of that time.

In 1941, the children's program at the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago laid the foundation for the principles of the Awana clubs. Lance Latham, North Side's senior pastor, collaborated with the church's youth director, Art Rorheim, to develop weekly clubs that would appeal to churched and unchurched children. As a pioneer in children’s ministry, Art created new and innovative ways to reach kids with the gospel and lead them to know, love and serve Jesus Christ. In this way the Awana Clubs were started.

After inviting Paul Fleming to speak at his church, Mr. Latham was drawn to Paul’s urgency of mission and promised to help in any way he could to find a way to help Paul channel missionaries to the foreign field.

Lance Latham was one of the original four members of the committee that started New Tribes Mission. At the first Executive Committee meeting in 1942, he was appointed the treasurer of NTM.

M. Robert (Bob) Williams

Bob Williams

Before joining Paul Fleming and the others, Mr. Williams had been a missionary to West Borneo, working with the same mission group as did one of Cecil and Bob Dye’s sister. In 1939, they attended Dr. Jaffray’s language school in the Indies, then established their first mission station in West Borneo, working in partnership with the Christian Missionary Alliance. Williams regularly walked or paddled deep into the jungles to share Christ with the native Malay and Dayak peoples. As he planted churches among the Dayak tribes, he routinely faced dangers from poisonous snakes, crocodiles, malaria and powerful witch doctors. Because of his work, he was given the nickname of “Borneo Bob.”

The Williams family barely escaped with their lives during the Japanese invasion of Borneo in 1942. Once home in America, he continued to sound the call for missions.

Robert Williams was one of the original four members of the first committee that was formed to begin New Tribes Mission in the spring of 1942. In July of 1942, the first Executive Committee meetings took place at Camp Michawana in Michigan. There Bob was named secretary of New Tribes Mission.

After the war, Bob continued to support NTM, but returned with his family to Borneo and the primitive Dayak tribes he had come to love so much. Each year he pushed deeper and deeper into the jungles, bringing with him young Dayak pastors that he had discipled. In the coming years, he also purchased several gospel boats to pick up people living along the Kapuas River and take them to the churches, clinics and schools that he started.

Key People

Paul Gifford

Paul Gifford

Paul Gifford was a New Tribes Mission missionary candidate in training at the Fouts Springs, California, Training Center in 1953. It is interesting to note that his father donated the land on which the Canadian Training Center was built in 1951 in Enderby, British Columbia.

In July of 1953, Paul was on the first of two volunteer fire crews that New Tribes Mission sent to help fight the Rattlesnake Fire in the Mendocino National Forest located just north of the Training Center. After it appeared that the main fire was contained, 25 men were sent to make sure that spot fires had been contained. The wind shifted and the fire exploded to life. Paul Gifford, a 32-year-old single man, was one of 15 men -- 13 from NTM -- who perished in the blaze.

J. Ruskin Garber

Russ Garber - Chicago

In 1945, New Tribes Mission took a step of faith and decided to publish Brown Gold on its own. Miraculously God provided all the equipment that was needed to do the printing. Not only did God provide the equipment necessary, He also supplied qualified people to do the printing. J. Ruskin Garber, who really knew the printing business, was challenged into the work and arrived in Chicago in time to set up the first issue of Brown Gold printed by New Tribes Mission. He became the first full-time manager of Brown Gold Publications.

Besides being the manager of the Publications Department, Garber was also overseeing the finances from the main office. He served on the Executive Committee and became the Mission’s director after Paul Fleming died.