Relational elements of life are a cherished blessing to just about everyone I know although it may interest you to realize that it plays out a little differently in some cultures. Take the case study we encountered among an unreached people group who view life a little differently than we do.
In western civilization our first meeting of a new acquaintance is wrapped up in a hearty handshake, then introducing ourselves and telling the other person a variety of things about our life. It may include where we live, what we do, and the things we like or dislike. For the most part it appears we are wrapped up in ourselves and in how we spend our time and resources. ‘Where we live’ may speak to another about the prestige of our heritage. …And ‘what we do’ may speak of our educational achievement and abilities. Yep, it’s all about us.
There are people in the world, as in our case study, who have a bit different perspective on life. Upon the first meeting of one another they are not drawn into the trap of who they are, where they live, or what they do. No, their focus is relational and spiritual, though not in terms of what we would consider relational or spiritual.
Let me explain:
The relational aspect has more to do with who is related to whom. You see, if two individuals are connected by kinship, no matter how close or distant, it gives them the distinction of participating as providers in buying brides or coming alongside one another as allies in battle. That’s a bit different than what you and I think of when we consider relationships, isn’t it?
The spiritual side of acquaintance is not the things you and I would consider in terms of soul-oneness through the commonality of salvation in Christ, but for such tribesmen the focus is upon the idea of how one manipulates the spirits of dead ancestors. One may perceive the other has found the secret to placating spirits for sake of embracing freedom from the bondage of fear. Most times, however, the new acquaintances come to learn that neither have the answer.
New Tribes missionaries get the blessed privilege of encountering such ones with vastly differing worldviews. It takes skilled knowledge and understanding to decipher the differences between their thinking and ours. While it necessitates wrapping our head around their way of thinking, we never want to come across as the know-it-all to ‘fix’ them, but rather, embracing an understanding of their worldview so that we can effectively bring them a biblical worldview that dispels the darkness of deception from a non-biblical worldview.
Consider this: We have God’s Word and the knowledge of Christ to guide and direct our steps. …But what about those outside the hearing of the gospel? Is their eternal destiny their fate?? …Or could it be their fate has become our failure to follow Jesus in making disciples among the nations?
The apostle Paul said it was his heart’s desire and prayer to God that they may be saved. We can do something to change this, as Paul later states “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”
Our prayer as we mentor potential missionary candidates and partner with would-be sending churches is, “Lord, who ya’ gonna’ call?”