When we began language learning for the first time back in 1982, we had to take what we learned and practice our texts with First Nations speakers other than our assigned language helper. I learned early that relationship building was the key to discovery.
On our NCEM summer missions program just previous, a lot of us young workers had learned how to do beadwork, taught by pioneer missionary, Martha Tarry. That’s how I developed a new friendship with Hilda, a senior citizen on the Reserve.
We’d made an arrangement where she would listen to what I was learning in her language and, in exchange, she wanted me to show her patterns of beadwork that were new to her.
So for a long time we would sit down one evening each week in her home and do beadwork together and talk.
Hilda was from what seemed the most religious family in the community. In fact, her son worked alongside a local religious leader to encourage our removal from the community! From time to time the son would see me at his mother’s place and raise his eyebrows, but say nothing to me.
Through our beading visits, Hilda began to share old stories from her childhood – even stories of a “witch” who had “bad-wished” people in her community. Perhaps she wanted to see how I would react, based on my culture and Bible ideas.
When another of her sons was killed in an accident, Mark and I were welcomed at her place to share in her family’s grief. For me, it was a privilege to enter into her life story.
Though Hilda heard about salvation through faith in Christ alone, she didn’t take hold of it for herself. Like the rest in her community, she believed she was born into her religion, and that’s how she would die.
My friendship with Hilda is one of the reasons I believe a worldview approach to ministry is important and relevant.
I believe, in our Discovering stage, we need to do more to prompt people to consider and question their own worldview – their assumptions about truth.