Recent Posts from the Mumena Team

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cultural Insights: Respect & Hospitality

Last post, I explained a very evil tradition: The Flying Coffin. This time, I will explain a wonderful cultural value: Showing Respect and Hospitality.

Some traditions show the very image of God shining in a people group. The way the Kaonde people show respect and hospitality to each other is amazing.

Respect is key to all relationships among the Kaonde. They always greet others with a warm greeting. Even strangers great each other with a quick acknowledgement. Failing to acknowledge somebody immediately causes that person to ask, "Why is he mad at me? What have I done to offend him?"

We missionaries often fail to show proper respect. In our culture, it is not very important anymore. We are too busy to greet every person we encounter throughout the day, even if we do know them. Unless we have something to say, we often don't say anything at all. Instead we quickly go to our office, our car, our private place, to do our own thing.

Living among the Kaonde community, I have learned how to sincerely greet and acknowledge others. Also, I have learned what real hospitality is like. Here if a visitor comes to the house, the household stops what they are doing. They say welcome (and mean it) and quickly get a seat for the guest. After he or she is seated, they then give all attention and start a conversation. It is even slightly offensive to ask, "Can I help you?" or "Do you need anything?" because it seems like the guest is unwanted or being rushed. Getting straight to business is equivalent to saying, "You are not important to me, I just want to know what you can offer me."

Obviously, we have made many mistakes while we live here. I have rushed by people without noticing they are there. Later, they have said to me, "Why didn't you greet me?" I apologize and tell them I am still learning how to give respect since we foreigners are not very good at that. They are very gracious and do not take it personally. When that happens, it is a quick reminder that I am not focusing on what is important.

God has made us a family of his children. The relationships we have are far more important than any busy-ness. Obviously, there are times to rush (like in a medical emergency). However, every day life is not supposed to go by in such a rush that we don't have time to show that we actually care about others around us.

Next time you go to work, school, or even in a restaurant, take time to say hi to those you encounter. This is a great lesson we westerners can learn from the "3rd world" who put priority on personal relationships. We may have most of the money, technology, and food, but if we forget to develop relationships, we are very poor indeed. It won't take much time to greet others warmly, but it will make a huge impact on our life.

I am thankful to learn some good life lessons from the Kaonde even as I try to teach them God's word.
- Rick Love

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cultural Insights: The Flying Coffin

Some traditions are just plain evil, like the Flying Coffin tradition of the Kaonde people.

Let me try to describe it from the traditional Kaonde point of view:
The flying coffin is a ceremony to destroy the evil witch who has caused the person (in the coffin) to die. This is done to bring peace back to the community before the witch can kill another person. The men who carry the coffin will take a herbal drug that will put them into a trance. This will allow the ancestral spirits to guide them to find the witch. During the funeral, they will start carrying the coffin. The spirits will guide the coffin and even make it hover over their arms to the witch's house. Then the witch will be accused and beaten to death, thus eliminating the threat to the peace of the community. Sometimes if this ceremony is not performed, the coffin will come back up out of the ground after it has been buried. Then it will fly to the witch and bring a curse to that witch or beat the witch to death itself.

Obviously, I have some problems with this perspective. Let me give my perspective:
Revenge belongs to God! He is the only one capable of judging and forgiving a person through Jesus Christ. The flying coffin is an attempt to seek revenge against an unknown enemy. However, it is based on the assumption that all physical consequences are a result of other humans bringing evil into the community. The ancestral spirits which the people trust to guide them to the "witch" are actually demonic spirits seeking to destroy an innocent person. The men carrying the coffin are acting as Satan's servants bringing murder to the community (thus they are the very witches they want to destroy). During the ceremony, I am sure Satan finds it quite humorous to see these men murder innocent people in the name of restoring peace. This is a demonic and abominable tradition which must be boldly spoken against by the Kaonde Christians.

The flying coffin is illegal and punishable as murder according to the Zambian law. However, the police cannot do much without the support of traditional leaders like the local chief. In some chieftancies, the chief has helped to punish the men who have done the flying coffin. In those places, the tradition is reduced and the men are most likely to allow the offending "witch" to pay a large fine instead of being beaten to death. However, in many places innocent people still die each month because of this evil tradition.

For example, about a month ago, a man was beaten to death in a nearby village. However, the family went to the police claiming their father was innocent (this is a good change, because in the past the family would ofter turn against their own family member and join in accusing him). The traditional leadership was very angry that this happened and the men were arrested. From what I understand, they are expected to be put in prison for 5 to 10 years.

Please pray that Christians will stand strongly against this practice and spread the message that God will judge according to his just ways. God has put governments into place to give criminals a fair trial where evidence is considered and the truth is attempted to be found. This is not perfect as human judges and criminal justice systems still make mistakes. However, it is far better than revenge killings. In revenge killings everything is led by pure anger and hatred and no sense of justice or truth is accomplished. God has taught clearly that revenge does not accomplish anything good - Romans 12:19

- Rick Love

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Congregation Report - Road 68 Church of Christ

One Sunday morning in the Congolese refugee congregation at Road 68, Brother Kazadi preached on how King Solomon determined who was the true loving parent of a certain child in question. Kazadi concluded his lesson with a passage from Romans 9:8…
“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants.” RSV
Kazadi pointed out how our Heavenly King has determined our parentage even in a world of violence and brokenness. As a result, we have both safety and belonging regardless of what Satan has done to our families here on earth. Bro. Kazadi’s lesson was all the more poignant knowing that his wife had passed away only a couple of months earlier. Kazadi continues to care for his 9 children now as a single parent and has begun children’s Bible school classes for the elementary children at the Road 68 congregation.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14 KJV
Rejoicing in belonging and safety,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

Monday, October 3, 2011

Congregation Report - Kyongozhi Church of Christ

We have enjoyed visiting the Kyongozhi church of Christ over the past months. They are very small congregation but are working hard to push forward with making bricks for a more substantial structure to meet in. They are sending four women to the Ladies seminar this weekend which are very excited about. Visiting there with Brian and Sondra has been a great learning experience as we observe their interaction with a maturing church plant. Since we will not be able to visit them during the rainy season due to road conditions we hope to spend a few more Sunday's with them before November.
-Jason & Erin Davis