Don Richardson & “Redemptive Analogies”

Friday evening I had the opportunity to meet Don Richardson, a missionary from Papua New Guinea! I had read his book Peace Child several years ago, which was my first introduction to the idea of finding “redemptive analogies” to share the gospel with unreached people groups. While reading Peace Child gave me an intro to this idea, his discussion yesterday made it much clearer, and to be truthful, excited me all the more about reaching people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus! So what is this idea of “redemptive analogy”? Mr. Richardson says that among tribal civilizations, there are hidden traditions, stories, or understandings, which point towards God and salvation through Jesus Christ. He first realized this during his time with the Sawi tribe in PNG and tells what happened in his book Peace Child. If you plan to read the book, I suggest that you do not read further so I don’t spoil the story for you. If you don’t plan on reading it anytime soon, or already have, feel free to read my super condensed version of the story. 🙂 Anyways, Don and his wife Carol struggled to explain the sacrifice of Jesus, to this head-hunting, cannibalistic tribe that honored treachery above all else. Mr. Richardson said, “In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at.” One day, two of the three tribes who had come to live close by, began fighting each other and realizing that their presence only made matters worse. Don and Carol prepared to leave and move their work elsewhere. Don had diligently spoke with the warriors and tried to bring peace, but they told him that he didn’t understand. Later on the night that he broke the news of their departure, representatives from each tribe came to him and told him that peace would be made. The next day, the two tribes made peace by giving a baby boy, or “peace child” to the other tribe to raise. According to tradition, this was the only way a lasting peace could be made between tribes. While it was a heart-wrenching ceremony, Don finally saw the way to explain the sacrifice God made by sending Jesus, the ultimate “peace child” to make peace between God and mankind. When Don shared this with the tribes, they finally understood the significance of salvation through Jesus Christ. According to Mr. Richardson, Judas’ ratings dropped a huge deal when they realized that he had killed a peace child. 🙂 Shortly afterwards, many in the tribe began to follow Jesus and today this tribe not only teaches their own tribe about Him, but has brought four other nearby villages to Christ! This is one of the best examples I have heard so far of the redemptive analogy, but there are many more out there. A matter of fact, Don Richardson has a book  called “Eternity in their Hearts” which is entirely devoted to discussing and giving examples of how this method has been used since biblical times to open doors to sharing the gospel.

What I heard this weekend was very encouraging in a couple ways. For one, it is uplifting to know that God goes ahead of us, preparing the work of missionaries, often times with an analogy that opens the door to sharing the gospel. It is nice to know that we are not the first to come into these tribes with the Good News…God has already been there. Secondly, it is inspiring to hear of the joy God gives these new believers and the passion they have to go share the Good News with others once they have been released from darkness! Their testimony pricks my conscience to realize what kind of passion I should have to share the gospel since I have been released from that same darkness myself!

There was so much more discussed, but I thought I would only choose the highlights. To wrap it up, I just want to say that I am so thankful to God for all that He has done lately in missions! I am especially excited to see how He is giving people the desire to reach out to those who have not heard His name and to become His ambassadors “to the ends of the earth”.

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