Book Throwing and the Mission of God: Part 3

Tom Richards, John Frum, Storytelling, Noah and ark

Tannese Noah and the ark story retold through song and dance at Jon celebrations (John Frum), Feb 2016

Interaction with Don’t Throw the Book at Them by Harry Box

Chapter 2

To live on Tanna is to live in the land of stories. Perhaps this is a familiar experience for other westerners living within oral societies. All people love stories; it seems we’re wired for them. But here, they carry out functions that are foreign to us. For example, stories can function somewhat like a title-deed for land ownership. Stories are also fundamental to all Tanna’s religious movements, conveying and reinforcing their ideals and values. When someone came to our closest village promoting a new movement, he came telling a story.

Box’s fundamental question in this chapter is: ‘Do oral societies have a system of communication that is adequate for receiving and passing on the Christian message?’ Box’s answer is, unsurprisingly an emphatic yes. I will summarize Box’s chapter and then add my own thoughts as to how we might answer Box’s question in relation to any particular oral culture with particular reference to oral communication on Tanna. Continue reading

Circumventing Circumcision

DSCF8043Three students on field experience from Southern Islands Presbytery Bible College were practicing pastoral visitation, going from household to household praying for people’s needs. They entered one house where the upcoming circumcision of their son was weighing heavily on the people’s minds. The students brought the matter before the Lord and moved on. Later that day the family discovered that their son had been miraculously circumcised.

Six further ‘miracle circumcisions’ took place within about a month at that location, which is one of our mission fields. But these weren’t the first circumcisions of this kind to take place on Tanna. The first took place in 2000 when it was prophesied that miraculous circumcisions would take place across the island and radiate out from here around the world. Continue reading

Rain on the Righteous and on the Unrighteous

DSCF2836It has been an unusually wet couple of months.  They tell us that this is the dry season and that there are sometimes even droughts in this part of Tanna, but this year it has been wet and windy.  In fact it has been so wet that at times it has slowed my work in visiting mission fields.

I am not the only one whose work has been slowed.  There are three trucks in this part of Tanna other than mine.  Last week the drivers went together to see the ‘kastom man’ who ‘works’ the rain to accuse him of using the rain to spoil their businesses.  You see, on Tanna, rain is thought to be controlled by people. Continue reading