Peace Child

Kaiyo reached down and picked up Biakadon. Alone in the empty longhouse, he held the soft, warm, gurgling body of his son close to his chest one last time. He thought of the grief his deed would bring to Wumi, but there was no other way. Kaiyo looked toward the bright doorway at the far end of the longhouse, and began to walk toward it, his limbs trembling, his visage contorted by the conflcting emotions raging within him.

Biakadon’s mother Wumi stood in the midst of the jostling, shouting crowd, absorbed in the common suspense of wondering whether there would be peace or not. Naturally if anyone would bring himself to the point of handing over a child, it would be someone who had many children and therefore would not miss one of them too badly. That was the reason it was out of the question for Wumi and Kaiyo to consider giving Biakadon.

“But,” she wondered, “where is Kaiyo?” He had been standing right there beside her a few moments before. With a twinge of unease, Wumi’s black eyes flashed toward the longhouse, just in time to see her husband leap down from the far end and begin running toward Haenam with Biakadon in his arms!

For a moment, Wumi stood frozen with shock and disbelief, telling herself it was only a coincidence that Kaiyo was heading that way with Biakadon. Then suddenly the knowledge that it was not a coincidence struck her with crushing weight. Wumi screamed and ran after Kaiyo, pleading with all the force of her soul.

But Kaiyo never looked back. His broad back kept growing smaller with distance as he raced ahead of her. Wumi felt her feet sinking in the mire of a small bog. In her anquish, she had missed the trail.

There was no hope now. He was too far ahead… With a piteous cry, Wumi let herself collapse into the slime in which she had become mired. Writhing uncontrollably, she kept repeating plaintively, “Biakadon! Baikadon, my son!”
                                                                           *   *   *   *   *

The tears ran freely as I sat in my beach chair reading these words – perhaps an odd sight at the beach. I had selected the book Peace Child by Don Richardson for my beach-read this summer, and my intrigue intensified as he set up the true story of his arrival as a missionary with an appalling description of the lifestyle and philosophy of the cannibalistic, headhunting people of pre-civilized Netherlands New Guinea (now called Irian Jaya).

I was captivated by how this author (a linguistic specialist whose initial quest upon arrival there was to decipher and document the language of the people) told the story in such a beautifully descriptive way.

I felt his frustration as he agonized over the fact that treachery was the most revered character quality – the men had been thrilled with his account of the betrayal of Jesus by his disciple Judas Iscariot. How to overcome their idea that Judas was the hero of the story? He wrestled with the thought that throughout history, God had instilled word pictures, ideas, and traditions into different cultures that could be used to explain His plan of salvation - - but as far as Don could see, this culture had nothing with which to enlighten its people.

photo taken from the book

The people seemed to want to live near to him and his family, yet it was a constant struggle to keep the animosity on an even keel. They simply could not get along! He knew that it was a just a matter of time until fighting broke out, someone was killed, and the never-ending cycle of revenge would begin again.

Finally he told them that he and his family must leave – they would not be responsible for starting another blood-feud. This announcement set off a tumult of discussion among the people, and they pleaded with him not to leave.

“Tomorrow we are going to make peace!”

No one slept that night, and Don and his wife Carol wondered what the morning would bring. As the sun rose, they were met with the shocking scene of the exchanging of infant children. Fearing the worst, Don took a young man aside and asked what was to become of the babies.

Tuan, you’ve been urging us to make peacedon’t you know it’s impossible to have peace without a peace child?”

He went on to explain that among the Sawi, every demonstration of friendship was suspect except one: If a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, that man could be trusted! That, and that alone, was a proof of goodwill no shadow of cynicism could discredit.

The knot in my stomach over the grief of the mothers gave way to amazement at how God had prepared this example in the lives of the Sawi in order to show them that He loved them so much that He sent His one and only Son to be the permanent Peace Child.
Both for them..
               ....And for ALL of us!
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peaceThere will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever..."
Isaiah 9:6-7


Marlene said...

When I read this book years ago I too was amazed. WhAt a picture.

Marlene said...

When I read this book years ago I too was amazed. WhAt a picture.

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