Christian Living

The Gospel’s Impact on Cannibals

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 02/13/2014

I love the book Peace Child, written by Don Richardson, a missionary who went with his wife and baby to a tribe in Western New Guinea that highly celebrated treachery, murder, and cannibalism (e.g., when they first heard about Jesus’ life and death, they thought Judas was the hero of the story). Peace Child is an account of how the Richardsons were finally able to convey the value of the gospel to the Sawi people, and the story is an incredible one.

When Richardson and his sons returned to visit the tribe after decades, they saw the effect that knowing Christ had had on the entire society. Excerpts from a video documenting their visit describe some of the changes (the full video is posted below):

Normally, you wouldn’t hear someone say, “It’s great to see so many old people.” Disease took its toll. Death from warfare took its toll. But now, to come back and see that there are just throngs among the crowds of people—throngs of people with gray hair, and old enough that they have trouble walking along the trail—that’s a special joy....

When we came for the first time, there was a lot of enmity between the tribes. Coming back after so many years, to see the relationship between these people, where there’s really almost no line of demarcation between them—they’re just treating each other like brothers and sisters, they love each other, they share the leadership in the church services, and they’re intermarrying. So the walls that have been broken down by virtue of the gospel’s impact are very, very obvious....

A SAWI VILLAGER (interpreted): When [the missionaries] came years ago, [we] were still living in darkness. God’s word has been planted here, the gospel has been received, this place is full of peace. It’s a safe place to live. We’re very blessed. I want to give thanks to God because the gospel came here. And I want you to know that when you leave on the airplane tomorrow, that we’re going to stay faithful to the gospel as long as we live. It’s everything to us.

In C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, Aslan (the Christ figure) says, “I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms.” And so Jesus has. We have no idea of the scope of the blessings that Christianity has brought the world, but stories like this one give us a hint.

(HT: Justin Taylor—Returning Home to Ex-Cannibals)