Wednesday, 23 March 2011

'Peace Child' by Don Richardson

I've just finished reading Don Richardson's excellent book 'Peace Child':I've also posted two short videos about it above to whet your appetite! It is a truly 'unputdownable' book, one of the best I've read in a long time and I guarantee you'll not be disappointed if you decide to read it. 'Peace Child' is inspiring in that it shows us how God was already at work when Don, along with his wife decided to obey God's call to bring the Good News to the Swasi tribe of New Guinea. Not only did the tribe speak in an unwritten language,they were also head hunters and cannibals to boot.One reviewer from Amazon writing about the book states:

Talk about living on the edge, Don Richardson, his newlywed wife Carol and seven-month old son Stephen step from the 20th century into a stone-age cannabilistic cultural with gruesome and horrific practices. This book reads like the true adventure it is, starting with the narration of life, death, betrayal, parties where the honored guests become the special of the day. Enter this family of three into the midst of suspicious cannibals bringing three rival factions together each vying jealously for the knifes, steel axes, matches, machetes, mirrors and medicine, you get a powder keg with small to large explosions daily. Imagine living in a grass hut with your wife and baby huddled inside while fierce warriors and arrows fly throughout the sky. Imagine facing an entire clan beating and burning a man that the sorceress has declared to be a soul-less zombie and praying him back to life, only by a miracle of God. These and other adventures show what it's really like to walk by faith, trusting only God to protect you, and doing His will to win people to Christ. There are many hair-prickling turns in this story, leaving you at the edge of your seat, wondering if it'll all end in disaster. But the glory of the Lord is that He had left Himself a witness in the strange custom of the "Peace Child" that Richardson was able to use to point to the Perfect Peace Child, the Son of God, Prince of Peace, to bring the Sawi tribe to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. Truly awe inspiring. I am now reading the sequel "Lords of the Earth".

After writing this post I had lunch with Pastor Don Palmer, an old school friend from my 'Sullivan' days. It turned out that this Don studied at a Bible College in Canada with Don Richardson's son and had even met the great missionary himself. It's a small world!

I've been so impressed with 'Peace Child' that I've also started to read his second book 'Eternity in their hearts' which I hope will inspire me to find keys into reaching more of our local 'tribes' with the message of hope!

Check out Don Richardson's website at


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I'm at work and on a coffee break, so I didn't look at this video yet, but I was intrigued by the story, so I quickly found the Wiki article on Don Richardson and read it, and also found his books website, where his latest book, Unhidden, is featured.

I don't know if I will have time to read his books, even though they look very interesting, but I will certainly look at this video.

The story of his experience with the Sawi sounds a little bit like the evangelization of the Amazon tribes by the wives of the slain missionary martyrs of Ecuador. At least in that they went among a people whose ways were startlingly different.

The concept that Judas would be considered by the Sawi as the hero of the story and Jesus as the dupe is astonishing; but so is their tradition of the "Peace Child." That alone, I think, makes me want to find out more about this particular mission and its results.

Thanks for posting this!

wiki said...

Don Richardson (born 1935) is a Canadian Christian missionary, teacher, author and international speaker who worked among the tribal people of Western New Guinea, Indonesia.[1] He argues in his writings that, hidden among tribal cultures, there are usually some practices or understandings, which he calls "redemptive analogies", which can be used to illustrate the meaning of the Christian Gospel, contextualizing the biblical representation of the incarnation of Jesus.

Missionary careerRichardson studied at the Prairie Bible Institute and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. In 1962, he and his wife Carol and their seven-month-old baby went to work among the Sawi tribe of what was then Dutch New Guinea in the service of the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. The Sawi were known to be cannibalistic [2] headhunters. Living with them in virtual isolation from the modern world involved exposure to malaria, dysentery, and hepatitis, as well as the threat of violence.

In their new home in the jungle, the Richardsons set about learning the native Sawi language which was daunting in its complexity. There are 19 tenses for every verb. Don was soon able to become proficient in the dialect after a schedule of 8-10 hour daily learning sessions.

Richardson labored to show the villagers a way that they could comprehend Jesus from the Bible, but the cultural barriers to understanding and accepting this teaching seemed impossible until an unlikely event brought the concept of the substitutionary atonement of Christ into immediate relevance for the Sawi.

wiki 2 said...

Missionary historian Ruth A. Tucker writes:

As he learned the language and lived with the people, he became more aware of the gulf that separated his Christian worldview from the worldview of the Sawi: "In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at." Eventually Richardson discovered what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to the Incarnate Christ far more clearly than any biblical passage alone could have done. What he discovered was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.[3]

Three tribal villages were in constant battle at this time. The Richardsons were considering leaving the area, so to keep them there, the Sawi people in the embattled villages came together and decided that they would make peace with their hated enemies. Ceremonies commenced that saw young children being exchanged between opposing villages. One man in particular ran toward his enemy's camp and literally gave his son to his hated foe. Observing this, Richardson wrote: "if a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, that man could be trusted!" From this rare picture came the analogy of God's sacrifice of his own Son. The Sawi began to understand the teaching of the incarnation of Christ in the Gospel after Richardson explained God to them in this way.

Following this event many villagers converted to Christianity, a translation of the New Testament in Sawi was published, and nearly 2,500 Sawi patients were treated by Carol. The world's largest circular building made strictly from un-milled poles was constructed in 1972 as a Christian meeting place by the Sawi.[4]

The Richardsons then left the Sawi to be cared for by their own church elders and another missionary couple, while they went on to work on the analysis of the Auyu language.

In 1977 Don and his wife returned to North America, where he became a "minister-at-large" for his mission (now called World Team). Don also began teaching at the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, becoming Director of Tribal Peoples' Studies. He was instrumental in launching the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course under the auspices of USCWM. Richardson has continued to teach and travel broadly, speaking about "redemptive analogies" as a means to communicate the gospel message among tribal peoples and other cultures. His best-selling books have had a significant impact on missiology and ongoing Christian missionary work.

Outsider said...

Wow! Don has gone completely grey! I did a seminar with him, if I recall correctly, in 1988, in OK, USA, and he was very youthful.
He was planning to complete his Four Thousand Year Connection, but that hasn't happened. Do you know anything about that?