Bonita and John Pryor

Former Papua New Guinea missionaries, Bonita and John Pryor.

Before you read on about an incredible, always giving, local couple, I hope you had a memorable Happy Halloween. Also, a big shout out to my bride, Debbie, following a memorable birthday for her, and, lastly, a recent 10th birthday celebration for our only grandchild, Maya, Juneau, Alaska, who is now double digits (10)! 

Now, I present today’s main event.

At some point during our limited time on Planet Earth, we usually understand “what it is all about.”

John and Bonita Pryor, residents of Our Town for many years in this 21st century, discovered their career-calling early in their married lives. After much thought, concentration and prayer, they decided to go “outside the box” –way, way, way outside the box, folks!

Would you believe halfway around the globe to Papua New Guinea And, they did it for 25 YEARS!

They chose an extremely noble path, helping their fellow humans, in a land far, far away, as linguistic Bible missionaries. For those that need more explanation for that job description, they lived with 700-800 native people in a remote village on PNG, translating the Bible into the local native languages. They also looked after the health needs, safety, agricultural/food concerns, and anything else brought to their daily attention by the native people in this extremely isolated place on our large earth. Wow, what an undertaking for two Americans in their early 20s, further amazing with the birth of their first child and son, Jesse, born a month after their arrival in PNG. Interestingly, Jesse, wife, Karie, and their 4 children, assumed the same giving job where John and Bonita left off about 15 years ago, when they replaced Jesse’s parents doing the same missionary work in the jungles of PNG. The Pryor’s younger son, Joshua, spent most of his growing-up years in PNG, too, and he greatly helped the locals. Talk about an unselfish, dedicated family affair!

How about some interesting information regarding my friend, John Pryor’s, past?

This caring human servant was born in Our Town in March, 1948, one of 4 sons to Olive and Allen Pryor. Early on, John was an excellent amateur golfer, and called our municipal Lakeside Golf Course his 2nd home for many of his youthful years. Heck, I even remember him being on little league football and baseball teams with me, so athletics were a big part of his life, just like most fellows in those gentler and simpler times of the late 1950’s/early 1960’s in Our Town. He is a local C.E. Donart (SHS) graduate in 1966. However, John early-on felt a higher calling, resulting in him leaving our state for his college education.. He was graduated from Johnson Bible College (renamed Johnson University in 2011) in 1970, with a bachelor of ministry degree. Today, Johnson University has 2 campus locations, and John attended the east Tennessee branch, found in a suburb of Knoxville. Bonita was graduated from the same institution a few years later, her degree in elementary education. Soon after their college days, they were married. 

Next, both of them attended the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Dallas, followed by moving to the Carbondale, Illinois area, and serving a church in that location for about a year and a half. From there, they began their quarter century of missionary service, 1977-2002, in foreign PNG.

Just how isolated where they in PNG? “30 minutes by air to anything that resembled civilization”, John told me.

Over the many years of our close friendship, John has related numerous incredible stories of their lives in the jungles of PNG. Certainly, one of my favorite episodes concerns a very unusual medical role for him. John treated an estimated two dozen natives that had been bitten by poisonous snakes. He successfully provided a hand-held electrical device to deliver a live, small current, to the victim’s body, and the electrical current neutralized the deadly snake venom. His multiple courageous acts were absolutely lifesaving to the suffering native people. 

John and Bonita have returned to PNG 3 times since 2002, to check on how well their quarter century of missionary service is holding up, along with Jesse and Karie’s current efforts. All is reported good there, and in excellent hands.

Hats off to the entire Pryor family. It is such a joy to know truly caring people, benefiting those less fortunate people!

Robert Breedlove is an Oklahoma State University news-editorial journalism graduate, and a former newspaper (including News Press) reporter. He resides in Stillwater, and has for most of his life. He has been a contributing writer to various media over the United States for years. He may be reached at dermrefmd@aol.com.

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