31 May

The second wife

The hope was that after the ethno arts workshop, we would have a couple of days break and then start recording songs and stories onto mp3 players and sd cards and the like. Since the Canadian team unable to come, we took the decision to postpone the recording but still to run the arts workshop. Lots of people came to get involved, so it was very exciting.

While at the arts workshop, an interesting situation came up. One of the ladies present is the second wife of a man. As a result, she is allowed to attend church and make an offering, but she is unable to be part of the choir, or attend other events, or be part of church life in any other way. There was quite a discussion about her participation in the arts workshop. She has an excellent voice and loves to sing, and was very excited about the idea of writing songs. However, not everyone was happy with her participation. In fact, an elder drew the line at her being involved in the recording. Apparently, it would jeopardise the ability to distribute the recording because people won't listen to it if she is involved.

I was mystified, maybe even a bit pissed off about it. How dare they judge a lady for that! How dare they decide who is and isn't worthy of worshipping God! How dare they decide who can and cannot come to a church programme!

And what of the man? He has the two wives! What sort of church are they when they say 'no' to someone? God is love, and I believe Jesus wants to hear her songs – to glorify him.

The problems:

  1. Talk about pot and kettle!
  2. The Bible does have guidelines and standards, but who are they for? What would I do if a gay or a lesbian wanted to join my church band? I know it is not the same thing, but multiple wives is a cultural problem. It is banned by law in England ad so we don't have to deal with it. The UK is about to allow same sex marriage. How are we going to deal with that?

We're struggling to differentiate between culture, theology, law, preference and interpretation of all the above!

What would you do?

  • Allow attendance but not recording?
  • Say no to it all?
  • Allow participation in everything?

It is very easy to judge through our own cultural filters – different isn't wrong simply because it is different, but it might be wrong when measured up against the Bible.

Time to read up on the apologetics of multiple wives.

28 May

Literacy workshop highlights the need for Bible Translation

Despite the Canadian team having to cancel their trip, we concluded that it would still be good to engage with the project communities and go ahead with plans to run the Literacy workshop. After talking about the first day’s activities I asked Christy to write up one specific incident.

Yesterday we wrote a group story.  The theme was “Fighting” and the audience was “Children.”  We wanted to help children to know that fighting is not good.  As we wrote, there was much discussion and debating as to how to best write our sentences into a cohesive story.  20 opinionated men all writing one story, a new kind of challenge.  Finally we were getting to the end of our paper allotment, and the purpose was not coming out clearly.  Abu was still fighting with his friend Ali.  So, I gave an ending that we might move on. “Abu, though he always was losing in fights, turned and surprisingly knocked Ali down!  Then he felt bad because he remembered how it felt to be beaten, and he helped Ali up.  Abu never fought again.”  The room was in an uproar and I didn’t understand why!  Everyone talking at once.  Then one man spoke up and said, “No, it is not good, Abu would have been proud because he finally was strong enough!” “Yes, but when one knows their own power, they don’t feel a need to prove it anymore!  Only a weak man fights to show he is not weak,” I matter-of-factly stated my cultural opinion. Another man chimed in, “Here in Nigeria, we would never feel bad about knocking someone down. Nor would we go so far as helping them up again!” 

“That is why we must write, people,” I said, more convinced than ever, “Jesus said, “if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also” should our culture overcome the words of Jesus?  That is why we want people to learn to read this Book.”

As we were talking about it, once again I realised just how deep-seated some of the ‘normal’ cultural thinking is here that is counter to biblical teaching. I know, I know. Talk about pot and kettle, right? But I long to see these people have the Bible in a language and form they can understand so that God’s love can penetrate every aspect of lives here. 

Now I shall go read some scripture about my judgemental attitude…. 

%d bloggers like this: