Saturday, November 30, 2019

Walking Forward Into The Light Essays - Christianity, Africa

Walking Forward Into The Light ?My father, of course, was bringing the Word of God- which fortunately weighs nothing at all.? (Kingsolver 19) Missionaries from all faiths have traveled all over the world in attempts to show other peoples their ways. Christian missionaries in particular have struggled in their efforts to convert indigenous people. Simply bringing the Word of God, as Nathan Price does in The Poisonwood Bible, was and is not possible. With a conversion of faith comes an adoption of customs, morals, lifestyles, and even political views. Even though young Leah Price says that the Word of God weighed nothing, it was actually the heaviest burden the Price family carried with them on their journey. Every missionary who has brought the Word of God to the Congo region has been faced with many more challenges than they could have ever imagined. The Poisonwood Bible provides a glimpse into each of the complex situations that are created due to missionary work in the Congo. It is the turning point for religious work in the nation and depicts the ongoing struggle between the Congo and the rest of the world. However, to fully understand the impact of missionary work in the Congo, the beginning as well as the future of this movement most also be examined. The Congolese are a people who are rich in culture, very bright, and extremely diverse. For a long time, they were also regarded as being among the richest in natural resources until other countries exploited them. Africans in general had no need for prejudice, even when engaged in trade with other tribes or countries. Their practice of enslavement was merely a way to win a war or conflict. They treated slaves humanely. However, there was a great deal of misunderstanding from the very beginning between natives and the Europeans that arrived on the continent. Even missionaries struggled to understand their completely different way of life. The most challenging cultural idea was religion. Africa, including the people of the Congo, is a monotheistic people. Most explorers and missionaries failed to understand their belief in one creator. Generally, Europeans thought that the Congolese were an ignorant and backwards people and certainly would not have any ideas about just ?one God.? (Nkuzi) This superiority complex put a great deal of distance between the two peoples. The lack of true communication and understanding between the natives and the missionaries was the cause of the most devastation. Without a firm understanding of the culture, the missionaries could make little headway in conversions or even simply helping the communities. Giving aide to the villages of the Congo was one of the more successful efforts on behalf of the missionaries. Hospitals, clinics, improvements in transportation, and agriculture were all helpful additions to the Congolese way of life. However, these new establishments only made advances in places where the missionaries took an unassuming role. As seen in the novel The Poisonwood Bible, the hospital in Leopoldville lacked the prejudice and fervor of men like Nathan Price. It is obvious that the hospital helped more people than Nathan ever does. Also seen in the novel is the French Catholic missions led by religious women. In this scenario, the women wonder if what they are doing is enough; however, they again make more advances to help the people because they did not try to preach to anyone. Their ministry was one of healing, and Leah Price recognizes this when she hides for protection in their mission. Missionaries have been exploring the Congo region for over 100 years. European missions led almost all of the earliest expeditions into this new, uncharted territory. These men came not only with a sense of conversion, but domination. This mindset still causes problems today between the two groups. The missionaries came with the words of the Gospel of Mark: ?go therefore, and make disciples of every nation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned? (Mark16:15-16). To save every person from sin seemed like the only Christian thing to do; however, this immense task could not ever take a firm hold in a land where tradition and faith had been practiced quite differently for thousands of years. As

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