My college roomie, Scott, is a missionary doctor in PNG (Papua, New Guinea), by no means a developed country. He and his wife Gail (a nurse) work regularly to overcome superstition in the treatment of people who are enmeshed in a supernatural view of the world (spirits cause everything to happen). It's a real challenge.
We think that worldview is backwoods and ignorant (and it is on some levels--keeping people very trapped), but I think they have something to teach us. We remain backwoods and ignorant of the unseen--the place where love and hate, good and bad, compassion and darkness are created, nurtured or destroyed. The Bible calls this world, "the heavens." And it's interesting to note that in the scriptures, God speaks from this world, reigns in this world, and will one day wed together that world and this world in a "new heaven and a new earth."
For one thing, their imagination and longings have not been captured by choice and consumerism. I suppose something is lost when you have two aisles of tooth-paste and each passing holiday brings aisles and aisles of things to "make the spirit bright." The places of the spirit are shoved with material goods and we become disordered as a result. Our hearts become stone, closed to the heavens. Their hearts, while wrestling with their own dis-ease, seem to be more tender.
Scott and Gail are here in the states for an extended break called furlough, and I recieved this email from Gail the other day highlighting the difference between there and here.
Anyway, being in the states at Easter and seeing 4 rows of candy and pastel items at Wal-mart gets me down. When my friend Judy emailed me this...I started to cry!
"Sunday night they showed the Jesus film in the church (at PNG). It hasn't been shown for 8 or 10 years. Everything was going wrong with the equipment - first the generator, then the DVD, then the projector then everything.
It felt like a lot of opposition. Finally it all worked at the same time. They had to stop the film at the crucifixion and have an altar call so many people were crying. There were probably about 1000 people crowded in. The altar was 15 people deep. Ladies were climbing over the pews to get to the altar. They prayed for a long time and then started the film again and showed the resurrection. It was very wonderful!!"