Wednesday, November 26, 2008

God Speaks How He Chooses

I am reading "Bruchko" - an autobiography by an American, Bruce Olson. As a young man Olson went as a missionary to Colombia. Circumstances separated him from the other missionaries he had originally come to join, and he found himself alone, deep in the jungle, living among the Motilones - a murderous tribe of stone-age people. Traditional missionary methods proved of absolutely no avail, and for years he had to content himself with simply being a contributing member of the community. He engaged in the same necessary work as everyone else, but he also tried to introduce better agricultural techniques and healthier ways of doing things, without in any way destroying their unique culture. Life was very harsh, and it is difficult to imagine how he could have lasted the pace, had God not intervened supernaturally to heal him and to help him.

The years passed. Occasionally "Bruchko" (i.e. Bruce - as pronounced by the Indians) had opportunities, in the course of conversation, to explain some of the things he believed - but nobody acted on what he said about Christ. Then one day Bobarishora, his closest friend among the tribesmen, following yet another conversation on the deepest things of life, told him that he had "tied his hammock strings into Jesus". It was clear as they talked further that the tribesman had genuinely turned to the Lord. Bruchko was very excited. "I wanted him to call a meeting and tell the rest about Jesus...He could do it more effectively than I... I wanted him to do it the way things would have been done in North America... I wanted to squeeze him into the mold."

But Bobarishora (Bruce nicknamed him Bobby) would have none of it! He couldn't set up something which the rest of the community would recognize as artificial. He did admit in conversation that he had become a Christian, but he wouldn't hold any meetings or do anything publicly.

Time passed. "Bobby" married and became one of the respected younger leaders among the tribesmen. Then one day an older chief invited him to take part in the traditional "Festival of Arrows", which meant singing a Saga-Song to everyone. Bruchko writes: 'Bobby's song was about the way the Motilones had been deceived and had lost God's trail. Then he began to sing about Jesus... Everyone became quiet in order to listen. The song continued for ten hours (!!!)...That night a spiritual revolution swept over the people. No one rejected the news about Jesus. Everyone wanted Him. There was tremendous jubilation. God had spoken.

He had spoken through the Motilone culture'. After that there was great progress - such progress that Bruce Olsen has several times been asked to address the United Nations on how it was that helpful methods of hygiene and farming, and Christianity, were introduced into a primitive culture, without effacing that culture, or turning it into a pale reflection of the United States!"

What can I add?


Aida said...

This is one of my favorite books. It shows what Father can accomplish through the naturalness of relationships if we're willing to take the time and allow him to do it.

Thanks for bringing this wonderful book to the forefront. It's truly a classic.

John Fincher said...

It is an amazing account of this incredible man who allowed Father to use him.

I read it through in one evening. I couldn't put it down.

Joel B. said...

Sorry so late on commenting here. I really love the whole heart and spirit of this! Nothing forced. No manipulation. Nothing fake. No pressure. All (super)natural.

Alison Fincher said...

This story reminds me of the story of Caedmon, the first recorded English poet. According to the Venerable Bede, the cowherd Caedmon was embarrassed every time it was his turn to sing a song (i.e. recite a poem) in the meed hall. He fled to the fields one night to avoid shame and was greeted by an angel who told him to sing about creation. He was given a miraculous gift to write poetry about God in the style of secular Anglo-Saxon verse.

Come to think of it, there are many stories of poetry being one of the first ways God works in a culture. Saint Francis is also said to have written the first poem in Italian, a celebration of creation called The Canticle of the Sun.

Thanks for sharing the story.

John Fincher said...

Joel, I really recommend it. I stand in awe of what this man went through and what GOD accomplished.

Alison, I always appreciate the historical perspective you bring. Can't wait to see you at Christmas!

Alison Fincher said...

Thanks for making me feel appreciated! :-)