Peace Child by Don Richardson tells the story of Christian missionaries Don and Carol Richardson and their attempts in the early 1960’s to bring the gospel of Jesus to the Sawi people, headhunting cannibals of New Guinea. For the Sawi, treachery was an ideal, and the only way to make peace between enemy tribes was to give the sacrifice of a “peace child” to ensure the treaty between warring groups.
“You want Hurip to die?” I asked.
“Yes!” Amio hissed.
Anxiously I rose and faced Amio, “Why?”
Amio’s voice choked with emotion as he replied: “Remember I told you my father Hato once gave a tarop child to the Kayagar, only to learn later that they had killed the baby and devoured it?”
I nodded, and Amio continued, “The man lying in this canoe is the man to whom my father gave that child! He is the same man who killed and devoured my little brother! Tuan, I’ve been waiting for years for a chance to . . .”
Now I was trembling, too. The Christmas spirit was not coming easily to the banks of the Kronkel that day. . . . was I really being realistic in hoping they would forgive their enemies for Christ’s sake?
For a moment I stood speechless before Amio, praying for wisdom. Then an old memory stirred in the back of my mind. Reaching out with both hands, I gripped Amio by his earlobes. He was startled, but he did not draw away. He listened carefully while I said: “Tarop Tim titindadeden! I plead the Peace Child!”
Amio shot back, “The peace child my father gave to Hurip is dead! Hurip himself killed him!”
“But the Peace Child God gave still lives!” I countered. “And because He lives, you may not take vengeance against Hurip. Forgive him, Amio, for Jesus’ sake!”
My fingers still gripped his earlobes.
Today’s Gifts from Semicolon
A song: Moon River, music by Henry Mancini. OK, it’s not a Christmas song, but it’s vintage Andy Williams. Enjoy.
A booklist: Barbara H and 31 Days of Missionary Stories.
A birthday: Andy Williams, b.1930. We always used to watch Andy Williams’ Christmas special on TV, back in the day.
Joseph Conrad, b.1857.
Moon River by Johnny Mercer.
Moon River, wider than a mile,
I’m crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you’re going I’m going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There’s such a lot of world to see.
We’re after the same rainbow’s end–
waiting ’round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.
A Christmas idea: Redeeming Christmas, Kindness-Bombing by Juanita at Once Upon a Prairie.