Ilaretok: helping spread the crazy good news without strings  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in , , , , ,

A recommended read on missions, evangelism, church life, community: "Christianity Rediscovered" by Vincent Donovan. A Catholic priest sent on missions to the Masai tribe of Tanzania.

After successfully communicating the Gospel with 7 local tribes, he prepares to leave them to their own journey of faith and asks them what role or label they would have for a "priest" or "pastor" equivalent. He describes their process:

'What will you call the one who takes my place, the one from your community who will do my job among you when I am gone?' They discussed it at length. Certainly not laibon or witch doctor - they were rid of this pagan domination. Also not legwanan or chief - for what role of chief would their be in a people of Christ? No olkarsis (rich one/powerful one), olkitok (head one) ...They chose to equate this role to a man present in every community - a man always interested in all of the flocks of a tribe, not just his one and supporting the phases of life of a community: ilaretok (helper or servant of community).

He goes on to discuss how critical it was that he present the Gospel free of systems, developments or constructs not required by Christ - and let their culture experience the eucharist-like transformation of having the love of Jesus at its center. Here's an excerpt on his imperative for this:

We must be reminded that it is dangerous to preach the gospel as part of any system. The gospel is lost through any such identification. This identification of gospel with system has been made more than once, and in the end we are confronted with astounding conclusions: the gospel is monarchy, the divine right of kinds; the gospel is democracy; the gospel is capitalism - so said the Calvinists; the gospel is apartheid - so say the South Africans of old; the gospel is Marxism, the gospel is African socialism...The Gospel is none of these things. The Gospel is not progress or development. It is not nation building. It is not adult education. It is not a school system. It is not a health campaign. It is not a five-year plan. It is not an economic program. It is not a ranching scheme or water development. It is not an independence movement. it is not the freedom fighters. It is not the liberation movement. It is not the black power movement. It is not...No one would deny the connection between the gospel and development...what has to be denied is the mutual identification of the two things. Our business, as Christians, is the establishment of the Kingdom.

A great testament to consider.

My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place...You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

- Jesus to Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem (c. AD 30)

This entry was posted at Friday, September 19, 2008 and is filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 thoughts and responses


here's a question for you - how do you show love to a people you don't know without a common language?

September 24, 2008 at 8:40 PM

We are missing you! How is Haiti going? We look forward to a full report of your adventure.

September 25, 2008 at 8:40 AM

Thanks, Archie! haiti has been a rich experience.

Extremely brief snapshot - consider the following YouTube video clip put out capturing some national concerns resting on the issue of leadership. Interestingly enough for this blog forum, many prominent folks within the Haitian world are beginning to say financial assistance only sustains them, and their most desperate need is true leadership across all sectors.

September 25, 2008 at 7:51 PM

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