The Nahuatl verb closest to “become” is mochiwa which roughly translates to “make one’s self” something. Part of life as a tribal church planter is becoming something that one wasn’t before. In I Corinthians the apostle Paul gave several examples of becoming other than he was for the sake of the reaching the lost with the gospel and it is the same for us. In order for my ministry to be effective here, I need to become Nahuatl.
That is the best way that I can think of to describe part of my life in this village. I learned to make corn tortillas because here all women make tortillas. I’ve sewn several decorative cloths because all women here can sew. I pretend to be embarrassed about things that I am not at all embarrassed about, because that is sometimes the most acceptable response.
I wear the clothes and speak the language and go to the events. I greet people the way greetings are done here and tell jokes that are only funny here and play with the kids in a way that is accepted here. This is not duplicitous of me. I am not fooling anyone, for everyone easily knows that I am not Nahuatl.
I am intentionally trying to become something other than what I am for the sake of the Gospel. Paul said that he did this because he was an imitator of Christ and that we should also imitate that in our lives. But what was Paul’s aim? I mean, why did he work towards becoming? Couldn’t he just be himself?
His goal was to win, to save, and to partake in the Gospel. His motivation was love, proven by a willingness to give up even his own Christian freedom and think of himself as a slave to others.
In this same passage, Paul uses the word “as” quite a bit. He became as if different things, even though he was not really those things. I like that. I am living as if I were Nahuatl, even though I am not truly Nahuatl because of my love for the Nahuatl and to win the Nahuatl.