Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So, what about the pygmy tribes in Africa?

You know, there are many times that I have talked with people about the Gospel and invariably I have someone that asks, "Yeah, well what about the pygmy tribes in Africa? What happens to them if they haven't heard the Gospel?" It's odd how it's always the pygmy tribes in Africa.

Interestingly enough, the Bible addresses this. It is very clear in Romans 1:19-21:

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Also, in Romans 2:14-16
14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

To anyone who has been in that situation, I would first suggest becoming very familiar with the above passages. Read not only the passages, but read the entire two chapters so you are familiar with the context and then memorize those verses.

I have told these people the following 3 things when they try to assert that somehow God is unfair and is going to leave out the pygmy tribes of Africa:

  1. They offend the character of God and don't know what they are saying.
  2. They are limiting God's power and somehow suggesting that He is not powerful enough to reach these remote tribes or that they have escaped His notice.
  3. How do they know that God hasn't appointed them to go and tell them about His goodness, justice and mercy?

I just finished a book called Bruchko. It's a quick read at only 202 pages and I finished it in a few hours. To be honest, I couldn't put it down. It had some passages in it that I will probably photocopy and take with me when I am sharing the Gospel.

Bruchko is the story of an American missionary, Bruce Olson who goes to South America as a 19 year old young man in the 1960's and shares the Gospel with the Motilone tribe of Indians. The Motilone tribe was so feared that other tribes such as the Yuko tribe wouldn't even go near their territory for fear the Motilones would kill them. It is an amazing story about the obedience of a young man in the face of great trial and difficulty. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone contemplating mission work or anyone who thinks their life is difficult. You can not comprehend the words "difficult" or "trial" until you've read this book. The next time you're having a pity party because you think life is difficult, pick up this book and read it and you will quickly have your attitude adjusted.

Interestingly, on p.117-118 he is talking with one of the Motilones he has befriended asking why the greatest warrior/hunter, named Abaratutura was fearful of him (Bruce/Bruchko) and wanted to kill him.

"He thinks you're the cannibal with the magic flute," Arabadoyca said. "So he'll kill you before you kill him."

"What?" I said, "What do you mean?"

Arabadoyca stretched. "The time will come it's said, when a white man will come to the Motilones with a magic flute that he will play. He'll lead all the Motilones into a trap, and they'll be eaten alive."

They talked about how they had first met and then Arabadoyca continued, "When no harm camed to us because of you, most of us believed that you were all right. In fact, some thought, that you might be bringing God's banana stalk."

"What's that?"

"There is another prediction that a tall man with yellow hair will come with a banana stalk, and God will come out of the banana stalk."

Just to let you know, Bruce is a tall man from Minnesota and had a head full of blond hair. These predictions were made and by oral tradition handed down by the witch doctors who interacted with the people. You will have chills when you discover what the banan stalk is. Even in the depths of the jungle they are aware of God! They recognize that there is a supreme Creator over all the earth. They may not refer to Him as God as we do but make no mistake they already knew having never been "told" about Him.

Further, on p.126 he is working with the Motilone witch doctor. According to Bruce (a.k.a Bruchko) she didn't pray to demons but tried to help her people by praying to God in the best way she knew.

This next part is very important.

On p.127 he asks the witch doctor, "What's the cause of all these sicknesses? There doesn't seem to be any end to them."

She was surprised that I didn't know. "It's the evil spirits showing their power. That's why we use the chants. We call on God to cast the evil spirits out."

"And why doesn't He always do it?" I asked.

Her face fell, and she turned aside. "We have deceived God," she said in a low, sad voice.

I stood behind her, puzzled, feeling as though beneath what she said was something I needed to understand.

"How did you deceive God?" I asked.

"A man came who claimed to be a prophet," she said. "He said that he could take us over the horizon to a land where there was a better hunt. His name was Sacamaydodji. We left God and followed him."

"When did all this happen?" I asked softly.

She said nothing for a moment, then swept her arm out. "Many, many years ago. We have only heard the story. But we know that he has deceived us. We are far away from God."

The deceiver, Sacamaydodji was Satan and even this stone age, primitive tribe in the jungle of South America knew not only that there was a God but that they had offended Him and were far from Him and only He could save them.

Furthermore, when he is finally able to share the Gospel with the Motilones, he tells them that they were sinners and specifically it was their sin that killed Christ. They wept but understood completely and gave their lives to the Lord. None of this ridiculous watered-down message of salvation out of fear that they couldn't handle the truth or that it was too heavy for them. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation! (Romans 1:16)

So the next time someone tries to "trip you up" by asking about the pygmy tribes in Africa tell them that the pygmy tribes in Africa and South America and all the world, for that matter, aren't foolish enough to pretend there is no God as the fool in front of you is trying to assert.

I hope that this book helps to equip you to share the Gospel. You can learn more about Bruce Olson by visiting www.bruceolson.com

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