Papua New Guinea: A story that impacted world missions
Hidden among tribal cultures, there are practices or understandings which could be called ‘redemptive analogies’. These can be used to illustrate the meaning of the gospel, contextualizing the incarnation of Jesus.
This missionary principle is best illustrated in Don Richardson’s classic book ‘Peace Child’ (1974). This great missions story, demonstrating the power of the gospel in a primitive tribal culture in Papua New Guinea, had a strong impact on many people around the world.
In 1962, Don, his wife Carol, and their 7-month-old son went to Dutch New Guinea to minister to the Sawis, a group of cannibalistic headhunters. Don immersed himself in learning the complex language, and began working to teach them about salvation in Jesus. But the cultural barriers made this seemingly impossible, especially because of the value the culture placed on treachery and deception.
As he learned the language and lived with the people, he became more aware of the gulf that separated his Christian worldview from the worldview of the Sawi. In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at. Eventually Richardson discovered what he referred to as a ‘redemptive analogy’ that pointed to the Incarnate Christ far more clearly than any biblical passage alone could have done. What he discovered was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.