In 1957, Victor Schlatter was a young American nuclear scientist, when G-d decided He had other plans in store for him! After retraining in linguistics and Bible translation, He and his wife Elsie with their young family of four moved across the world to Papua New Guinea, where, in a “South Pacific Stone Age scenario” Victor discovered people speaking 800 distinct tribal languages… “a linguist’s paradise”! It took seventeen years of intense study and research until the Bible was published, and it is now used in over 120 tribal congregations, by some 15,000 people!
Victor describes approaching some members of the Highland Waola tribe with “I came to tell you about G-d.” Their answer was a simple “Yeah, we know… He’s up there… He’s okay.” Through the years, Victor helped teach and transform these tribes, offering them a “wholly revitalized world view. A third generation since our 1961 arrival is now blessed with teachers, technicians, pilots, pastors…” Victor describes his excitement as he looks back on his 50-year tenure there: “these people started with bare feet and loincloths… and still live on muddy trails in the backblocks of nowhere. Their progress has been amazing.”
Victor taught them to read and gave them an opportunity to develop a relationship with G-d and the Bible. When Victor and Elsie told the islanders about their trips to Israel, “it blew them away!” Victor recalls meeting with the Prime Minister of Fiji who thought that Bethlehem, Jericho and Jerusalem only existed in heaven. Victor took groups to Israel and they realized the Bible was real. “We have a lot to learn from their intimacy with G-d. Western civilization is too busy with ‘I’m right- you’re wrong.’ G-d is right! Let’s be related to Him… not to a system. G-d does not answer to theology; theology answers to G-d. The people of the Islands are not perfect; but they know who G-d is.”
Victor was directly instrumental in the strong support Israel receives in the U.S. from island countries, the only countries other than the U.S., which consistently vote with Israel. “I made a personal visit to the presidents of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands in December of 1966, Bible in hand, opened to Genesis 12:3: ‘I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse.’ Months later they took their public stand for Israel. I made a similar visit to Palau about a year later with identical results. Nauru came on board a few years later.”
Sondra still remembers a $300 check that arrived in the mail from Victor years ago. It was one of the most meaningful contributions she ever accepted on behalf of the settler communities of Judea and Samaria because, as Victor explained, this donation represented the nickels and dimes of hundreds of people, including barefoot natives, given with love to support Israel. And when Sondra Oster Baras decided to make her first CFOIC Heartland trip to Australia, Victor was there, making connections.
Victor and Elsie are currently in the Galilee where Victor is writing his fifth book, believing the very air of G-d’s land, provides true inspiration. Reflecting on this, his 25th trip to Israel (!) and on the many friends he has made in the Land over the years Victor feels “closer to the Orthodox… than to many so-called Christians or the Jewish secular left. I draw a red line for those who allow the semantics of their beliefs to divide between G-d fearing Jews and Bible oriented Christians.”
Thank you Victor, for being a true friend of Israel.