A white woman from Wisconsin, who in her own words was “all dry-cleaning and catered lunches,” moves hours from civilization to the middle of the African bush and marries a tribal leader from an unreached people group.
Some legends are embellished, but not Dolfi. She’s as real as it gets. We joked that her story is every church-kid’s missions nightmare. “God, please please please don’t send me to live in a hut in Africa!”
Yet there she was, sitting on a folding lawn chair in her simple concrete home (the only residence in the entire community that wasn’t made of grass, sticks, and shrubbery) telling edge-of-your-seat stories to a bunch of city-slickers from the States.
Recently, a well-known anthropologist studying the ancient, tribal cultures of the Datooga and Hatzabe confronted Dolfi and her native husband about the work they’re doing.
“You’re changing these people,” he irately challenged. “You are completely destroying an ancient African culture!”
And in a way, he had a point.
As these tribes, completely untouched by the good news of the Gospel, were introduced to Jesus, they did begin to abandon some of their ancient tribal practices. Customs like…
…selling off their 11 and 12 year old daughters as sex slaves to abusive leaders from neighboring tribes.
…female circumcision (or genital mutilation).
…following the incantations and black magic of the local witch doctors.
In Dolfi’s words:
“As we sift the lifestyles and customs of these ancient cultures through the filter of The Gospel, something different begins to emerge from the other side. Something healthy. Something alive. Something beautiful. Our anthropologist friend accused us of killing off an ancient culture, but we believe we’re actually resurrecting it. We’re watching the power of Jesus Christ recreate these beautiful people into who God actually designed them to be all along.”
And that’s what the Gospel does. It resurrects. It doesn’t make us less American or less Hispanic, less Russian, Chinese, or Datooga.
It makes us alive.