I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to tell the story. The story of how God’s great Kingdom HAS come on earth. The story about truth and mercy, peace and light, darkness turning to dawn, about the Kingdom of truth and light.
About a week or so ago, I was talking to one of the Guarani guys I work closely with and asked him what he understood about God’s Kingdom. He told me that it was something that starts when Christ comes again. We spent the next hour going through our Bibles exploring texts about the Kingdom. I tried to show him that the Kingdom is here, now. Christ taught so much about it and conquered evil to initiate it and to free us from the chains of sin and death that bind and blind us. He sent the Holy Spirit and “gave gifts to people” so that God’s will could “be done on earth as in heaven”.
As I clumsily went back and forth through my Bible, he struggled to understand what I was trying to show him. I thought to myself afterward that I need to do it better, I need to be better at telling the story. The whole story, not just the story of the cross, but the story of the kingdom, because they are two equal and inseparable parts of the same story.
Most of the Guarani understand the cross part as meaning something better after this life, but sadly they have missed the kingdom part in which means God is working with us, his image bearers, to make things better here and now, in the power of the Holy Spirit, using the gifts he has given each of us. We’ve got to get this right.
There is so much brokenness and suffering here. Yes, everywhere. And we have incredible power at our disposal to affect that. Maybe we will go about it as clumsily as I told the story to my friend. But go about it we must. And going about it has to become the story of our lives as well. Not a side story, not a story visited on Sundays, but THE story-line of every day of our lives.
A couple of weeks ago I sat with my friend and four other Guarani folks around a fire sipping porro. One of the ladies there was the mother of a child who has suffered with seizures all of her ten years of life. They are now on their fourth witch doctor. The child is not improving. She told me they were half way through the current treatment which involved giving the child only water and soup prepared from water that a pig drank from three times. The witch doctor’s strict instructions. She told me her daughter had lost a lot of weight, but she was hopeful that this treatment would heal her.
I started talking about other possible medical solutions, but was quickly “set straight” by the others. This was all caused by an evil spell they assured me. There was no medical solution. I started to talk about how difficult it could be to discern spiritual from physical causes of things. It fell on deaf ears.
They are right, evil is the problem, but healing will not come from the witch doctor. It will come to them and through them. And it is not their faults. The story they have been told and live by is not the right story. Evil has written its way into their story so deeply and subtlety over generations. And the cross story is kept on hand for the moment of the inevitable conclusion to their current story.
Working with the Guarani people has changed my life. It has helped me see the problem of evil in a completely different light. It is so strong here. It infects everything. It is robbing people of life.
Our ministry has been to try to show people a better way, what the Kingdom is supposed to be like and how they fit into it. But maybe we have tried to explain the mechanics of it or tried to convince them in a way that doesn’t help them to see that they are at the heart of God’s story. They are the image bearers who God wants to use to reconcile and restore themselves and their people, to begin to establish a little bit of heaven in their corner of Bolivia.
Please pray for us as we learn to do a better job of telling them that great story.
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