Bob and Helen Goddard
Total Years of Service with NTM
Bob and Helen Goddard served a total of 44 years.
Country or countries served, and years
They served in Paraguay the entire time, from 1955 until 1999.
Tribes served and years
They served in six different tribes: the Lenguas; the Sanapane; the Macca; the Ayore; the Aba and the Angaite.
How were you challenged into missionary service?
What happens when a husband feels the clear leading of the Lord into mission work, and his wife strongly resists? Bob and Helen Goddard were in an electrical wiring business with their brother-in-law, and had what it would take for living a full life. Then a missionary from New Tribes, Ken Johnston, was invited to speak at their church. They were particularly interested in the five men who lost their lives by Indians in South America. When that service ended, Bill was convinced that he wanted to go to the field in some capacity.
However, when Helen, who had not been able to attend that service, heard that he had brought home applications for them to fill out for New Tribes service, she resisted. “I put my application packet up on a shelf and didn’t even look at it for three months,” she said. “It took me that long for the Lord to gradually convince me that if He was calling my husband, He was calling me, too!”
What was your biggest test of faith?
Their training completed, the Goddards were prepared to go. Then, they lost a baby to miscarriage, followed by the birth of their fifth child. Also, Helen was ill for a time. Therefore, they had to delay going to the field, while Helen recovered, and they cleared up hospital bills. But they had learned to trust in God’s timing.
Just as they were preparing to go, their supporting church folded. Now what? They joined a denominational church, but didn’t expect any support for independent missionaries, so didn’t even ask. Instead, two members of their new church offered support, so with support of only seven dollars a month promised, and a commitment to pray for them by a single person, they stepped out in faith. Traveling from Nebraska to Florida with a family of eight children ranging in age from sixteen years to eight months, “required organization and discipline,” Bob recalls. The Lord would provide just enough for the next leg of the trip, and no more, all the way.”
Describe a major cultural difference in the country where you served.
Their world views were vastly different. Some were animists; some believed in “a god,” due to the influence of the surrounding peoples. Some were under the influence of evil spirits. Some believed that if a person died, their spirit stayed around to wreak havoc with their families. Some were haunted by superstitions, such as fear of rainbows.
Describe your ministries.
Largely, they pioneered new works. They made the initial contacts and then turned the work over to other missionaries who learned the tribal language and did Bible translation. They also did evangelism in Spanish, in which most individuals were fluent. They actually took over for a couple of missionaries, who were unable to complete their works for one reason or another.
From contact, to pioneer, to Bible teachers, to contractors, Bob and Helen Goddard were, as he has said of himself, “maverick missionaries”. Not only did they themselves give most of their productive years to service of South American tribes in Paraguay, but their children have carried on the work they had started. To begin with, they worked as part of the team with their parents, but now they continue the work god began through their faithful parents. Now the Indians are reaching out, teaching other groups and tribes about the love of god through Christ.
Advice you would give to new missionaries going to the field.
Be grounded in Scripture; be trained. When you go to the field, be a lifelong learner, as you observe customs and culture from other missionaries and most of all from the tribal people themselves. Become involved with the people, and expect to burn your bridges, as you become part of your old ways of thinking. If you expect to change their customs, you compromise your ministry with them.