October was a month of refreshment for our family. While there was no shortage of work – hours of travel, home school on the road, packing and loading kept us quite busy! – the conveniences of city life were a welcome break from our remote daily village lifestyle. Returning home with a load which will both encourage and sustain our family, we entered into a period of precautionary quarantine to safeguard the continued good health of our neighbors. This had the added benefit of providing a time to unpack, settle in, and re-establish the norms of daily mountain life.
With quarantine’s end, we are eagerly re-engaging our neighbors… and to a degree not possible before, between the competing claims of building, moving, and COVID-19. In addition to language sessions and endless audio review, we are heading out into the community to participate in life they way they live it. First-hand experience of traditional Nahuatl life is the best way for us to find the words and phrases we need to learn, encounter and grasp unfamiliar cultural concepts, and prepare to clearly communicate God’s Word within this unique context. Unexpected hilarity is also an occasional feature when exploring another culture’s worldview!
One fascinating aspect of culture is how it continually changes, both influencing surrounding cultures and adapting to them. This concept is reflected in Joshua’s end-of-life warnings to Israel, pointing out the threat of slipping into the idolatrous ways of the surrounding surviving Canaanite peoples:
So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now …
… but if you turn away from Him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you.Joshua 23:6-8, 12-13 (NLT, emphasis added)
Nahuatl culture is no exception to the trend of intercultural influence. On one hand, English (like Spanish) has borrowed several words from the Nahuatl: ‘avocado’ from ‘āhuacatl,’ ‘coyote’ from ‘coyōtl,’ and – my easy favorite – ‘chocolate’ from ‘xocolātl.’ On the other hand, technologies and customs from the United States are permeating village life. With social media like Facebook becoming more common, we find a need to wisely consider the potential effects of our updates upon various members of the community.
We have always been careful to use pseudonyms when sharing news and requests for prayer, and will continue to do so. In the future, we will also refrain from sharing photos of Nahuatl people in most non-public circumstances – protecting our Christian brothers and sisters from an avenue for potential persecution, and non-believers from concern their neighbors will ask why they were ‘visiting with the gringos.’ This, along with a couple other precautions, will help our testimony among our neighbors in this very private culture – so we greatly appreciate your understanding!
Would you be interested in joining a private Facebook prayer group for the Nahuatl church and church planting ministry? Our coworkers have one for small occasional updates; Amy and I will also use it for sharing interesting photos or thoughts between full ministry blogs. Email me if you would like to be included in that community!
- For continued interest in Jesus from some of our neighbors, including one who has historically been a particular opponent of the Gospel.
- For the Hypki family’s safe return to Las Moras from their recent travels, language study progress during their absence, and continuing evidence of growth in the believers’ lives this past month.
- For the Advent season, when our celebration of Jesus’ first coming begins anew – reminding us of all He has done, and that we still eagerly await His second coming!
How to Pray:
- That our unsaved neighbors continue to come to Bible teaching – that mocking or persecution or fear not stop them, that they continue feeling a need to hear about Jesus, and that the Good News pierce their hearts… ultimately that they come to God through faith in Christ.
- For continued growth in the church – in numbers and in maturity, that the Body of Christ be even more clearly seen within the Las Moras community.
- For our family and team, as we say goodbye at year’s end to the Hypkis. Pray for us in their absence, for them in their transition, and for the church who will also dearly miss them.