Culture, Evangelism, Mission


A brilliant read! I have just finished reading Bruchko, the inspiring classic story of a 19 year-old American who felt God calling him to travel to one of the remotest jungles in Columbia to bring the good news of Jesus to the Motilones, a much-feared tribe of Stone-Age Indians. After five years of learning to survive in the jungle, battling disease, arrow wounds, loneliness, hunger and despair, he still hadn’t been able to talk to a single Motilone about Jesus. Eventually after years of hardship he was accepted by them and learnt that at the heart of their beliefs was a profound sense of lostness and hopelessness, expressed in a legend that the Motilones had once followed a false prophet who had led them away from God and now there was no way back and no one to protect them when the evil spirits came. Another Motilone legend told of a man who had become an ant. He had been watching some ants trying to build a home and wanted to help them, but when he began to dig in the earth he frightened the ants and they ran away. So he became an ant, lived with them, and they came to trust him so he explained what he had been trying to do. Using this ancient Motilone legend to help him explain the incarnation, Bruchko begins to explain the Gospel to his Motilone friend Bobby, until at last he encounters Jesus for himself:

“‘Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!’ Bobby shouted, so that the sound filtered far off into the jungle. ‘He has walked our trails! I have met Him!’ From that day our friendship was enhanced by our love for Jesus. We talked constantly about him, and Bobby asked me many questions. But he never asked the colour of Jesus’ hair or whether He had blue eyes. To Bobby the answers were obvious: Jesus had dark skin, and His eyes were black. He wore a G-string and hunted with bows and arrows. Jesus was a Motilone.” (Bruchko, page 144)

This is a wonderful true story (albeit from the 1960s) of what incarnational mission is all about. Naturally we tend to present Jesus through the lens of our own culture, inviting people to follow an English Jesus rather than helping people discover Him within their own culture. Whereas St. Paul said, ‘To those not having the law I became like one not having the law…so as to win those not having the law…I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.’ (1 Corinthians 9.21-23)

Bruchko is by Bruce Olsen (YWAM publishing, reprinted 2005) – click on the picture at the foot of the left hand column for more details.

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