Friday, 14 October 2011

Way of Life

Gabriel Manueli

In his book Doctor in Papua (1974) Berkeley Vaughn writes of his contact with the Kunikas, a tribe of mountaineers in the Owen Stanley range. No girl of this tribe would ever lower herself to marry her suitor until he had committed a murder. If he killed a man then he established his manhood. There the men of those villages would stalk and kill a complete stranger on sight. How then to completely change this, destructive taking of lives in these mountains? Clearly it was not to rush in with ideas, doctrines or ethical teaching, or to lay down sets of rules. It could be done only by linking these men to the Great Spirit, as they themselves called their idea of God. Vaughan expressed the challenge. There were no words for love or honesty or unselfishness in their language. But the missionaries could speak of friendship and unity, words these people did know, and demonstrate what they meant by living them out on their own lives. The days passed, and there came about a whole new way of life in those villages, For the men and women both gave up beating their children, and started to offer food to their enemies and even to ask for forgiveness for their former resentment, heated and violent acts.“A whole new way of life”, Vaughan’s phrase, translates the word mishpat (RSV justice ), and asking forgiveness and offering food to one’s enemies illustrates the word tsedaqah (RSV righteousness). The psalmist declares here that such are the acts of the holy God. In the Fijian language the Bible is called Ai Vola Tabu, the “taboo” book! “Don’t touch" too sacred for that. How difficult it is, we can see, to interpret the Christian faith to people who have no contact with the new way of life. The human language cannot fully express the gospel. First and foremost the other man must see the meaning of the fullness of life in the life style of the evangelist. Psalm 99.

No comments:

Post a Comment