Many of our readers will already know that in our ministry among Canada’s First Peoples, the Gospel is often rejected because it is considered “White Man’s Religion.”
Last year Myrna Patenaude, a First Nations ministry partner of ours, my wife Ulli, and I had just finished several days of missions mobilization work in Britain and were on our way to the Ethnos (New Tribes) Centre in Germany. Our task was to make known the work of FirstStory Ministries to our European partners.
As we came to a hill overlooking Eichstätt, Germany, I felt prompted to tell Myrna what happened among our Germanic peoples many years ago.
The story goes that an 8th century missionary by the name of Winfrid Bonifatius was having a very hard time reaching the Germanic peoples with the Gospel. Tree worship was the norm in that day. The Oak of Donar (Donar being a deity of the Germans) was considered a most holy tree. It is told that one day Bonifatius decided to cut down this mighty oak. Because he was committing Baumfrevel (tree sacrilege) in their eyes, the locals expected something awful would happen to him.
Instead, while he was cutting the tree down, a strong wind came up and helped tip it over. This appeared to be a supernatural act to the bystanders. It is said that many converted after they saw that nothing adverse happened to him.
Whether or not details of this anecdote are entirely true isn’t as important as the date … reportedly 723 AD. It means that approximately 700 years after the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus many Europeans had not even heard of Him.
Myrna responded, “I must tell this to my people.”
The obvious question is: How can the Gospel be White Man’s Religion when many of the white peoples did not even know of, or believe it until 700 years after the events of the New Testament had taken place?