Learn to Sing Their Song
Jesus spoke in parables, stories that built upon the societal norms and traditional beliefs of his audience, to help his audience understand the point He wanted to make. Occasionally, because we are so far removed from Jesus’ day, we lose the full impact of His stories, but once we understand the source of the story, and the setting in which it was told, its full meaning unfolds before us.
Clarence DeLude, LIM staff in Hawaii and Native Hawaiian himself, likes to tell the story of how his ancestors created their great feather cloaks, or ahu‘ula, some of which consisted of more than 250,000 feathers and took multiple generations to complete. Don't worry - no birds were killed in the process. Instead, they would capture a bird and pluck two or three of its feathers before releasing it.
The key to catching a bird? You have to sing its song. You have to know what it eats and where it spends its day. You have to know how it lives.
The same goes for ministry. When we are able to relate to those we are trying to teach, we gain their trust. When we eat with them, we learn about their families, their hopes, and their problems. When we speak their language and recount their stories, they no longer see us as outsiders, but as friends.
Friends listen to each other and seek each other’s advice and guidance.
So, as Lutheran Indian Ministries staff, we strive to be like Jesus, not only in our action and our words but in our ministry approach as well.
Tim Norton is learning the Navajo language, stories, and songs.
Dave and Rosemary Sternbeck invite teens from remote Alaskan villages into their home.
Tom and Cathy Benzler sit with elders in hospital rooms as they tell their life’s story.
Their job is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they can’t do that until they know who they are preaching to. Only then can they unwrap the words of the Bible to fit that individual’s needs and background.
As you go about your week, we challenge you to learn more about those who you are trying to reach with the Word.
Learn to sing their song.
And then, just like the creators of the long feather cloaks, be patient, and watch the Holy Spirit work through you.