A few days ago, I was going over some of the content on the new touch screen missions program that Dawson and I had designed for Gordon-Conwell seminary. I came across a video link on the 50th anniversary of Don Richardson’s “Peace Child”. I had not seen the whole video yet so took a few minutes to watch. As I stood there, a lump swelled in my throat. The video reminded me why I love serving the Lord in missions.
Don and his wife, Carol, had gone to Papua New Guinea to share Christ with one of the tribes in the jungles. Don translated the Scriptures, and Carol nursed the sick. Though the tribal people loved the Richardson’s, they were unresponsive to the Gospel. Revenge killing and cannibalism on neighboring tribes was part of the culture.The Richardson’s told the people that they were going to leave since the killing would not stop.
In order to keep the Richardson’s there, the tribe did something to bind the warring factions together in peace. They exchanged a “peace child”. A peace child in that culture is a newborn infant from each tribe. The infants were taken from their biological parents and given to the neighboring group to take care of. As long as the exchanged infant was safe and healthy, there would be peace among the tribes.
Don and Carol saw this as a way to explain how Jesus was sent by God to be the peace child for humanity. The tribe finally understood God’s grace and love. Many believed and became Christians. The killing stopped and the tribe was transformed.
That story was not what touched my heart, however.
The reason for my tears was because I was reminded of the power of God to reach difficult cultures through redemptive analogies–like the peace child.
My early training in seminary and all the years of ministry in the Philippines showed how we must understand the culture and worldview of people to share Christ in a way that makes sense to them. Without a sensitive, culturally aware missionary, there would be no transformation of any culture or people.group. God is working in every culture. It is the task of the missionary to discover where and share it with the people.
At the Center for Inter-cultural Training (CIT), young missionaries are trained to understand cultural differences, to look for ways to share the gospel that make sense to other cultures, and to grow in wisdom and spiritual strength as they prepare to go into all the world.
CIT is investing in future missionaries. With effective cultural training and preparation, maybe they will become the next Don Richardson and have a similar story to share.
The programs I am involved in developing at CIT–from pre-field residential language and culture learning, to online ministry growth through the first term, to training missionaries from other countries, and much more–will equip the next generation of missionaries and ensure that the Body of Christ will grow around the world.
Thanks for your prayers and support in this great endeavor.