I got this from a local paper. I say keep your religion to yourself and leave these people alone. They don't need you.First-Person
Can Cannibals be Christian?
By Catherine Doe
On a recent Sunday I found myself heading to the Convention Center, not to attend an RV show or Home and Garden extravaganza, but to go to church. It was the Crossroads Community Church and the main speaker, Caitlin Branderhorst, was going to recount her experience as a missionary in a former cannibal tribe in New Guinea. Her first words after settling on her stool looking out over the crowd were, “I'm so not worthy to be speaking here in front of all of you.” She gave all the credit to God for everything she had accomplished in her missionary work.
So can a nineteen year old young lady convert cannibals to Christianity? The Pukari of New Guinea don't actually practice cannibalism, but they used to. The last group of missionaries to land on their beach in the 1800s were speared and eaten. Caitlin suspected a neighboring tribe might still be practicing cannibalism. They had no tribe members her age. When she asked why they said all the babies born of that generation were killed.
So what did the first group of missionaries say or do so wrong to become dinner? ” It wasn't a comfortable subject to bring up,” Caitlin said, “for them or us.”
She landed on such an incredibly ignored and isolated patch of earth that I wondered what exactly do the Pukari practice? It would be typical white American arrogance to say the Pukari had no discernable religion. But the Pukari had nothing that would be considered a religion. When Caitlin and her six fellow missionaries arrived, the Pukari worshiped rocks and practiced a sort of witchcraft.
So I asked Caitlin the burning question. “How do you start?” She said, “First, you live with them.” For the first two weeks they gathered food, bathed and slept like everyone else in the village to build their trust. During her bucket baths the children were so smitten with her white skin they climbed the trees above where she was bathing to see more of it.
The next step was testimony. This was done with only one translator for several hundred people who spoke many different dialects. The Pukari live three day's walk from the nearest school or doctor. So ninety percent are illiterate and many have long term illnesses. Some of the testimonies were actually communicated through Christian dramas with no words. When spoken testimonies were used the words had to be spiritual and carefully chosen. The Pukari didn't have beds, toilets, or washing machines. Caitlin couldn't even use the word broom while testifying how her right eye was injured as a little girl when hit by a broom. One of her testimonies was how the doctors told her family she would be blind in that eye for the rest of her life. So her church prayed for her and after six months she regained her sight.
Caitlin said, “The missionaries would then ask the Pukari after a testimony if they would like us to pray for them?”
By the end of two months of testimonies and living as Christians, many of the Pukari became followers of Christ. Two days before they left, the missionaries baptized fifty Pukari. I asked if she really thought those fifty people were Christian. She said with all her heart she knows they are. Caitlin said that none of this was her doing but happened through the hand of God. I asked, “Why her?” She said it doesn't have anything to do with her. It just has to do with the fact that she is obedient and listens. She didn't choose New Guinea. She planned on going to Indonesia. But God literally pointed her finger to New Guinea on a map and she merely listened.
Caitlin agrees that she is not typical for her generation who is drifting away from church and religion. She wants to bring back Christian revivals for her age group to bring them back to God. I was skeptical about how she was going to do that. She wants to sit down and talk to kids her age and listen to them. She doesn't like the idea of preaching from the Bible but wants to live by example.
By the end of the morning I felt the essence of Crossroads Community Church was, “walk the walk instead of talk the talk.” It's definitely the church to go to if you are new to town or are disenchanted with your current church. Like all churches, everyone was very welcoming, but there were neither cliques nor fashion wars that can be part of the Sunday ritual at other churches. Caitlin agreed. She said she really believed that the Pukari who were baptized didn't just go through the motions to please their guests, but were truly Christian. “Miracles happened that day. Many of the sick, after years of medical neglect, were healed and some people's disabilities disappeared.”
Caitlin has since learned that the Pukari are building a church in honor of the first missionaries who arrived in the 1800s.