Peace Child by Don Richardson is a true story that beautifully illustrates the author’s “redemptive analogy” thesis—how God pursues His own.
Don and his wife were missionaries for fifteen years to the Sawi, a Stone Age tribe (cannibalistic) of Irian Jaya. Don designed an alphabet suited to the Sawi language and worked on translating the Bible. But after three years living among them, as he shared the gospel with the people, he found the most shocking rejection.
When Don told them the story of Jesus, they revered Judas as the hero. It seems that part of their cultural heritage was to esteem betrayal and the deception of an enemy. The bigger impact, the more dramatic the betrayal, the better. Consequently, Judas did what they valued most, and he did it to the All-powerful One. What greater glory could there be?
You’ll have to read the book to learn the details of what happened next, but through a crisis between neighboring tribes, Don discovered another piece of Sawi culture—the Peace Child. One tribal chief, desiring to bring an end to conflict, could do so by giving his child to the enemy tribe. This was the ONLY way peace could be achieved, and could be assured.
Don now had the metaphor that made sense to the Sawi. Once he explained that Jesus was the Peace Child, then Judas’s act of betrayal was seen for what it was. Through the years of Don’s ministry with the Sawi, half the people came to Christ.
How amazing that God had provided that critical piece of cultural connection so that even a tribe steeped in hatred and revenge, deception and betrayal, could understand God’s redemptive act of yielding up His Son to overcome our hatred of Him.
Yes, Christianity is exclusive—no man comes to the Father except through the Son, because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.
But God is also the Hound of Heaven and He pursues us relentlessly.
From Francis Thompson’s poem by that name:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
“Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said),
“And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”
This post first appeared here in December 2007