(the pre-written 2nd half of yesterday's post):
It totally excites me that this was a part of an ABC news report. It puts this all on the map, on the radar of others there in the states...even if only for a few minutes on a Wednesday night.
I also found it interesting that there were no Americans interviewed (except the pilot). Who were these missionaries...Brazilians themselves. I think that's awesome...that the Brazilians are reaching their own people.
And I do completely understand the skepticism and almost-paranoia of some in the world (of course the non-Christians, but also even Christians sometimes) who question the motives and actions of some missionaries. As with EACH AND EVERY position/job/organization/religion, etc., there has been 'corruption.' There have been (and continue to be in some instances) 'white man' (which translates really into anyone not indigenous) who arrive on the scene, literally with the attitude of a Superman...saving people from their own 'backwards ways,' pushing the white man's ways on the people who, if not violent and agressive/assertive and who, if they don't just outright kill the Supermen, do sometimes become dependent. If you haven't seen the movie Hawaii (with Julie Andrews), I recommend. It is very interesting and addresses this very thing in a way (in more of an entertainment forum obviously).
I think that is super rare these days. Maybe I'm a little naive and optimistic, but I just don't think that's the way missionaries see their jobs anymore and the people of this generation in particular just flat out detest that attitude. I may be wrong, but that's kind of what I see (in us and our peers, our age and younger especially).
The question of culture...this is two-fold I think:
1. There are certain things in a culture that are pretty dadgum insignificant...things like being late habitually; brushing teeth several times a day; when receiving a gift, doing so with both hands so as not to offend (with a one-handed reception); piercing a baby girl's ears; burping after a meal, etc. Who really cares about these things? Does it get on some people's last nerve? Yes. But, is it wrong? As much as you think your way is better (or even the only way)...no, these aren't wrong. Sorry to bust your bubble. (I personally have no problem with nudity either if that's part of your culture...although, I've never lived within a tribe where nudity was present...maybe, in reality, it is a problem)
2. But there are certain things that are just wrong, no matter who you are, no matter what your religion. Well, I guess that isn't totally and completely true, but you know, the extremists muslim groups who consider it an honor for one to become a suicide bomber? Nobody thinks that's cool. Nobody is fighting for their right to continue this practice. I mean, it's their beliefs, it's part of their culture/religion, is it not?!?!?!?!? Why do people try to stop innocent blood being shed by these suicide bombers instead of protecting the bomber's rights? BECAUSE IT'S WRONG!!!!
I guess I'm not quite sure why this (the situation in Brazil) is viewed differently. The report says that the government admits that infanticide does happen, but that the missionaries are "distorting an ancient and diminishing pratice that happens only among tribes so isolated from the modern world that severely deformed children are believed to be unable to survive." The lady from Survival International (more on SI here...interesting what the director said...I'm sure he's probably talking about us missionaries) stated (along with stating that she could not defend infanticide) that for people who have no medical care or any means or understanding of the condition which would enable them to take care of anyone that is born with a debilitating medical condition, that is the kind thing to do. Understood. BUT, even if you do agree with 'shooting a suffering horse' (or in this case, a human), that's really never been the reasoning given (that I've heard of...even in this news reel) for their actions. What is the reasoning...bad/evil spirits, a curse, possible punishment of the parents, or some other tradition/custom. Being a twin or born of a single mother is not a medical condition someone needs relief from. And the report that it is 'diminishing'...is that supposed to make it better? Oh, O.K...since it doesn't happen as much as it used to happen...that's O.K. then. Um, no...even if it happened only once, ever...not right, not O.K.
What needs to happen? Obviously, the goal of missionaries is to introduce others to Jesus so that they can have true abundant life here on earth...and have a home in heaven when their abundant life here on earth is done. 'Abundant life' does not mean a westernized life. :) But, the only way to truly have an abundant life here on earth is to incorporate God's principles into your way of life (your culture, if you will). Now, at the risk of sounding pious and uppity here, let me just say that those last couple of sentences is not my opinion. That's just the way it is. Jesus said that He is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life. I like to include people. I don't like for people to be left out. So, truly...I honestly hate having to say that. I am not narrow-minded, but I have found the truth and that is just the way it is...Jesus is the only way. (Even most successful non-Christians are only successful because they have unknowingly incorporated God's principles into their dealings...those principles just work, period)
So, of course missionaries are going to share Jesus...He is the cornerstone of their very beings. He is the cure for 'what ails you.' He is the only Way. Some are offended by the fact that Jesus is shared. But, it's not the Indians who are offended by this...it's others looking in. The Indians are grateful for missionaries. Why? Because we offer other things to them...medical care, dental care, chances to learn so much more that will HELP them in THEIR WAY of living their lives the way they already live. Guess what? The Indians are free to take it or leave it when presented with Jesus. Nobody is pushing this on them, obviously. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Of course, even that is a bad analogy because it's not like we (Christians, missionaries) have put harnesses on people or anything. But, you get my point.
Do we bribe them with our services? No. We provide them. That's it. We don't say, "If you come and listen to us and receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then we will fix your teeth." :) Come on. Do we share Jesus with them? Yes. But, we do that just in loving them, talking with them, showing the Jesus film (attendance not mandatory of course), etc.
People are people are people. No matter who you are, what economic background or status you have, what language you speak, whether you work on Wall Street or live in a hut in the Amazon...doesn't matter. People can sense genuine-ness. If you lack it, that's when you lose your 'audience' no matter what you are talking about. When missionaries are genuine...when they meet people's physical and emotional needs, when they love like Jesus loved, when they just generally emulate Him...that's when people listen. Not because we push our stuff on them. Besides, it's not us and our agenda anyway...it's God's power that ultimately takes effect. His Word does not return void. Wow...enough about missionaries.
What else needs to happen? Of course, I'm not the one with the answers, but I guess I'm just wondering why in the world this is even an issue, really. Babies/children are dying...not just dying, but being killed!! Those of you in the US, just think of it in terms of Native Americans (because they are the only 'indian' group we have to relate to). If they had had the practice of killing babies for certain things, would we still be defending their right to do that today? We wouldn't. (then again, not sure what the difference in that and the horrible shedding of blood in abortion and partial birth abortion and just laying babies aside to die who failed to die during an abortion...ohhhhhhh, the blood that is on our hands!)
I guess I'm just wondering why not protect these lives? Sure, protect the people of the tribe, let them live their lives the way they want...but, protect innocent lives from death for heaven's sake. Anyone who did the same thing in Anapolis (our city) that the people in the tribes do to their young who 'don't make the cut'...they'd be facing consequences. Somehow it's against the law for us living outside the tribe. I say educate them regarding LIFE...of course, as a Christian, my idea of that is through Jesus. But, even in the natural, educate them about disorders, twins, etc. Give them options. ASK THEM for heaven's sake. Did the government ever think about that? Do they enjoy killing their babies? No, they don't (read some of those testimonies on that website referenced in the last post). Would they appreciate other options? Probably so. Then, of course, after the education (which would probably do the trick), if they continue in these practices, hold them to the laws, esp. concerning murder. Why is that not an option in the eyes of the government, to provide that service and then other than that, leave them and their culture alone.
Seriously, why is that not an option? Just because something is their custom, their culture, doesn't mean that it is the best for the people. How many times, in the American culture, have we learned something new that has helped us tremendously? Apparently the government sees this kind of growth detrimental to the Indian tribes? Would they themselves (the Indians, that is) see some of these same things (that the government is 'protecting' them from) as enormously helpful (even in the natural)? Is the government helping them or just stifling them? Hmmm...maybe we should be investigating the motives of the government instead of the missionaries. Now that I think of it, isn't it apalling that we ARE investigating missionaries (who GIVE life) instead of the government (who is trying to protect the right to kill)? Wow.
Alright, I honestly planned to provide the link and be done. But when I got to typing, wow...apparently I had a lot on my mind about this situation. There is much more that could be said, but please just pray for this situation...and for the eyes of the government officials to be opened. Pray for the missionaries involved firsthand in all of this. Pray for the babies that will be born in the future (today, tomorrow, next week) who will be killed simply because their 'condition' is misunderstood...and their government refuses to protect them. Pray for God's purposes to rule and reign here in Brazil.
P.S. I loved how the missionary that had lived within the tribe on and off for 12 years responded when asked if she shared Jesus with them. What a feisty little lady there, huh? That's great perspective she has...and she knows her mission, no matter what people say. May we all have that boldness and tenacity.