Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's Not My Job!

My friend Brent Whitworth sent me this picture. It is such a great insight into human laziness. "I just get paid to paint the lines...moving limbs is somebody else's job!" Striving for mediocrity. Always doing the bare minimum.

I can't even say how many times a teacher in elementary school said to us, "I don't care if that piece of trash isn't yours and you didn't throw it down...pick it up anyway!"

It's a shame sometimes that adults expect to be treated respectfully, because it would probably do us a lot of good occasionally to have someone fuss at us and say, "Stop being so self-centered!" "It doesn't matter if it isn't your fault. Step up and do the right thing because it's the right thing; not because you have to do it."

Who is going to be a good example if I am not? Who will think that Jesus can make a meaningful difference in their life if I refuse to let my life be changed? Many people's lives are monumental messes; some of their own doing entirely, some with a combination of bad parenting. If I don't have time to make someone's life better, than who will make time?

And if I'm just not willing to be the example and go the extra mile for people in real, tangible ways, then I'd be a lot better off to stop wearing the name "Christian".

James 1:27. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Dani and Nabelan-Kabelan

After the conversion of the Damal people, something very interesting happened. The Dani people were the pompous overlords of the Damal, and as all the Damal began converting enthusiastically to Christianity, they were extremely intrigued.

They sent people to the Damal to inquire about the cause of the excitement. When the reply came that the Damal were rejoicing in the fulfillment of their ancient hope, the Dani were completely shocked. They too had been awaiting the fulfillment of their own concept that they called Nabelan-Kabelan. Nabelan-Kabelan was the belief that one day immortality would return to humankind.

If the Gospel was Hai to the Damal, could it also be Nabelan-Kabelan to the Dani? Gordon and Peggy Larson had been assigned to work with the Dani. As they presented the Gospel to the Dani, it was the warriors who became the most interested. They spoke of a man named Jesus who could not only raise others from the dead, but himself as well.

Everything fell into place for the Dani just as it had for the Damal. Their ancient longing for immortality was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The Word spread quickly from valley to valley. The once barbarous Dani people listened to the Message, they felt compunction mixed with joy, and upon their conversion they were added to the Lord's body.

The Damal and the Hai

The Damal people are located in Irian Jaya. Just a couple of decades ago, they were living in the Stone Age. There is a much more politically powerful tribe called the Dani. The Damal lived as a subservient tribe.

For who knows how long, the Damal people spoke longingly of a concept called hai. Hai was a long-anticipated golden age; a sort of Stone Age utopia where there would be no more fighting, no wars, men would stop oppressing one another, and sickness would have all but disappeared.

A Damal leader named Mugumenday had yearned all of his life to see the advent of hai. Finally he grew old, and near the end of his life, he called his son Dem to his side. He told him, "My son, hai has not come during my lifetime. Now you must watch for hai. Perhaps it will come before you die."

Completely oblivious to all of this, several years later, some missionary couples entered the Damal valley where Dem lived. They first spent time learning the Damal language, and then began to teach the gospel. Many of the Damal people thought it was polite to at least listen to their message.

One day as they were preaching to them, Dem--now a grown man--stood up and spoke, "Oh, my people, how long our forefathers waited for hai. How sadly my father died without seeing it. But now, don't you understand, these strangers have brought hai to us! We must believe their words, or we will miss the fulfillment of our ancient expectation."

As a result, nearly the entire population welcomed the Gospel. Within a few years, there was a congregation in every Damal village.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Sawi "Peace Child"

Don Richardson and his wife went as missionaries to the Sawi people. They gradually learned the language, and learned more about the culture, and sought to teach them the gospel. As they studied with them through the Gospel, they were in for the shock of their lives when they saw how the Sawi people reacted to Judas' betrayal. They began laughing and really hee-hawing at what happened to Jesus, and championed Judas as the hero of the story with Jesus as the loser. They considered treachery one of the greatest virtues.

The Richardsons were very shocked and confused, and really didn't know how they were going to win these people to Christ when they had such a skewed view of what true virtue is.

In the meantime, there started to be battles between the Sawi and one of the neighboring villages. These had been sporadic in the past, but they kept getting worse and worse with no resolution. Finally, the Richardsons informed the Sawi that unless the warring stopped, they would have to move away because it wasn't safe for them anymore. The Sawi had considered it an honor to have the missionaries living among them, and took this ultimatum very seriously.

Finally, one of the leading men stepped up to make peace. The Sawi culture has a special means of making peace with an enemy tribe. A father who has a healthy baby son will take his own son and in a public gathering with the enemy, will entrust his son to an enemy father to raise the child as his own. They referred to the baby as a "Peace Child". This was an enormous sacrifice for the family and the tribe, but it was a fairly sure way to have peace.

At this very emotional and crucial juncture, Richardson found a perfect redemptive analogy. He was able to present Christ as God's "Peace Child". This resonated deeply with the Sawi, who soon began to grasp the redemptive story of God as the greatest Father, giving his one and only son for the sins of the world, to reconcile alienated people. As of today, about 70% of the Sawi are Christians.

Redemptive Analogies

I'm currently in a Global Evangelism course at Harding with Dr. Stan Granberg. Though I'm a person who cares a lot for missions, I have not taken many courses in missions. If I had to pick between a missions course and a textual or theological course, I'd pick the textual/theological stuff every time.

But the MDiv requires me to be diverse, and to learn about all different aspects of Christianity, including missions. I've said up to this point that I have not taken a single class at the grad school that has not been worth my time and money. I still maintain this stance.

I think the most interesting thing I've come across in this course is the concept of Redemptive Analogies, described by Don Richardson in the book Perspectives On The World Christian Movement.

A Redemptive Analogy is what a missionary uses as a bridge between the Gospel and one's culture. If we can find an aspect of culture that helps people appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus, then it becomes more real to them.

Jesus himself did this. All Jews would know about Moses lifting up the serpent of brass upon a pole so that the Jews, dying of snake bites, could look at it and be healed. Jesus told Nicodemus that "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus here used a redemptive analogy.

There are several redemptive analogies that Richardson lays out in his chapter. I think they are so cool, and I am going to make a few posts relaying some of the ones he describes. What we find over and over is that God is at work in the mission field long before we get there. Posted by Picasa