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.

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! Thanks for sharing it.

    Grace and Peace,
    Royce Ogle