Saturday, July 23, 2005

Redemptive Analogy and Peace Child

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Don Richardson, the Regions Beyond Missionary Union missionary (RBMU is a mission organization that merged with West Indies Mission to become World Team in 1995), reached the Sawi tribe with the message of peace in Jesus and later wrote about it in the best-selling book Peace Child. In this book, and his other books, Don talks about a concept called “redemptive analogy”, which I found facinating and meaningful.

In Peace Child, Don tells how his wife Carol and him befriended a tribe of 3,000 cannibalistic headhunters—the Sawi. They found them living remotely in one of Papua’s vast swamps. They lived among them and learned their language. The Sawi were ravaged by malaria and other tropical diseases. Even more tragically, they were decimating their own population by waging almost constant warfare among themselves and with other tribes. As an alternative to that violence, Don and Carol urged the Sawi to find peace with God and with each other by believing the Christian message, but they hit a major barrier.

When he told the Sawi how Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, betrayed Jesus with a kiss, they exalted Judas as the hero of the story! They even bestowed upon him the title taray duan (a master of treachery)! One of the Sawi said, “We never thought of kissing victims of our treachery at the moment of truth. That Judas outdid us. He is the sort of fellow any other man should be proud to promise a daughter to in marriage.” Don realized in that moment that treachery was the Sawi culture’s “national pastime.” As war raged on between two nearby Sawi villages, Don repeatedly urged them to make peace, but saw little progress until Kaiyo, a father in one of the two villages, decided to honor his plea.

To make peace, Kaiyo gave his only child, Biakadon—to one of his enemies, a man named Mahor. Deeply moved, Mahor embraced little Biakadon as a “peace child.” He then invited every man, woman and child in the village of Kaiyo’s enemies to lay a hand on little Biakadon, thereby pledging no violence against Kaiyo’s village as long as his peace child remained alive in Mahor’s house. I gasped in awe, realizing that long ago God had placed within the culture of the Sawi people something analogous to His redemptive provision for mankind through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Don then began proclaiming Jesus as the Tarop Tim Kodon (“the ultimate Peace Child”) given by Navo Kodon (“the ultimate Father, God, the Creator of everything”). This analogy proved to be more than just an eye-opener; it became a heart gripper. “If only you had told us that Judas’s victim was a peace child,” they assured Don, “we would not have acclaimed Judas. To wrong a peace child is the worst crime possible.” In faith, they began to lay their hands on Jesus,thereby pledging allegiance to God, the greatest peace-child giver of all. Headhunting ceased. Churches sprang up in every village. The Sawi learned to resolve misunderstandings through consultation rather than conflict. Now they are healthier and happier, and their numbers are increasing.

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