Thursday, June 26, 2008

Throwing Out the God Pot

Another Nigerian mission story is this one told by John B. Grimley in his Annual Conference Bible Study on June 22, 1958.

Up on the side of Wamdi Mountain in northeastern Nigeria there are several grottoes formed by the way in which gigantic boulders were rolled together in ages long gone by. In these grottoes I viewed the Margi "engagement paintings." They had been done in red ocher on the grey rocks, daubed from the painted bodies of the young men who made the paintings during their engagement ceremonies. In the main they were stick-figure drawings of men and horses and spears - spears of the old iron-shafted and iron-spangled type. According to my guide, a Margi man, these paintings had been made on these rocks from "as far back as men first took wives."

But something new had been added. On the ancient and crumbling rock, also painted with red ocher, some Margi lad had printed J-O-H-N followed by the number 1957!

Yes, on the crumbling rock of pagan animistic religion and culture a new message had been written - the message of Jesus Christ and His church. My guide reached up and pointed to one of the paintings and said, "That one is mine, the one I painted thirty years ago." That was just about the time that Brother H. Stover Kulp first arrived in Margiland, traveling close by that very mountain.

... On the way down from the mountain we passed several old "god pots." They had been thrown out at the time of their owners' deaths. And I said to my guide, "Do you have one of these in your house?" (Every Margi man must have such a shrine.) Quickly he looked up and answered, "Oh, no! I threw mine out some time ago. I'm a Christian now."

Grimley concludes: Something new had come into his life. Figuratively speaking, he had already died, died to the pagan way of life. He had thrown out his little "god pot" and had taken in the New Man, the living Lord, Christ Jesus.

The question remaining for each of us is this: "Have we dismantled our shrines and thrown out our little "god pots?"

Source: The Adventurous Future, chapter 24