A while ago, I was in Port Moresby, the capital city, with a couple of our village elders. Thinking it might be nice to show them the parliament building, I drove them there one afternoon. Unfortunately, no sessions were going on at the time, and the place was deserted. In the grand foyer, however, a well-dressed woman greeted us from behind a counter. She graciously offered to give us a tour. She was elated to learn that we were from Western Province, and she told us she was from the Fly River area. The tour included an insect collection displayed in the lobby, all neatly mounted behind glass and labeled. I was amazed to see so many beetles, walking sticks, moths and other multi-legged creatures, all native to this country. As we passed one of the cases, our “civilized” tour guide pointed to a couple of plump-looking bugs and commented as if she was reading a menu, “These ones here are delicious! Have you tried them?” I thought she was joking until I noticed my two friends weren’t laughing. They shook their heads and pointing to some other winged specimens in the next case and said, “No, but we’ve had these over here, and they are pretty good.”
One morning back in the village, as I was preparing to commute to our house construction site, two young men darted through our back yard shouting, “Diya! Diya!” A large deer had wandered into the village, and some hungry village guys were chasing it. As I left the house and walked down the path, several more men carrying spears and clubs ran past me in the direction the deer had gone. I was thankful the poor animal was heading away. I didn’t want to see it being clubbed to death. Suddenly, the terrified deer changed direction and bounded past me toward the center of the village where I was going. I knew it didn’t have a chance. Up ahead in the wide-open sports field, a crowd converged on it. By the time I got there, men were dragging the carcass down the path.
I felt terrible. But instead of the sympathy and sadness I was feeling, everywhere I looked, men, women and children were running jubilantly to see the catch of the day. For me, it was a gloomy day. For them, it was like winning the jackpot in Vegas!
Why do some people think of food when viewing a bug collection and others like me feel disgust at the thought of a creepy crawler wiggling down their throat? How can some have feelings of joy after clubbing a deer to death?
How can I take the gospel, which has been preached to me with thoughts and illustrations geared to appeal to a western mind, and make it understood in the hearts and minds of people who are so different from me? They might wear western clothes instead of the grass skirts their ancestors wore, but their hearts are still Gogodala. Our commission is not to turn them into westerners but to give them a clear presentation of the gospel in the best possible light to draw them to the world’s Redeemer.