“The Moru, for instance, have been Christians for a century, yet Mama Ludia (photo), a diminutive priest with wrinkled face and sparkling eyes, could speak at length about the sacrificial practices of her ancestors. This, I realized, is the power of the oral tradition in a culture that has treasured it over centuries, maybe millennia.“
In an article on the Duke Divinity School’s website, Ellen F. Davis, Professor of Bible and Practical Theology recounts her experiences teaching Leviticus in Sudan. The story is rich with insights and easily read — don’t be intimidated by the words “Divinity School” or “Professor.”
One of the things I saw in it is an understanding of the value of the oral tradition. It is too easy for our modern western selves to link “oral” with “illiterate” instead of “non-literate” and make judgments about intelligence or work ethic. Despite all of our political correctness and sensitivity training, we are still often driven to conclusions by our own ignorance and prejudice.
Another thing I saw is the enormous value to the Church for people from all nations, tribes and tongue to be included. Every people brings unique reflections of the image of God created in them to the whole and every people brings unique understandings of the character of God and the interpretation of His Word to the whole as well.
In our own arrogance we may think that including people who are “less fortunate” or “less educated” or “less developed culturally” (whatever that is supposed to mean) is rather commendable. Who are we kidding? We need each other.
I have a very limited capacity to comprehend God. When I am privileged to see God through your eyes because you and I are in a relationship that opens that window for me, my capacity is expanded. I think this is one of the reasons those of us from the States have become almost addicted to short term missions — we’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God through the eyes of our brothers and sisters who see Him in ways we don’t and found Him to be very good.