When THEY Talk to God…
Andrea commented on the pile of corn on my counter. “Someone gifted you corn, huh? Ours aren’t ready yet because they haven’t been blessed.” She went on to tell me all about the bad things that can happen if you start eating your corn without the blessing. “Who blesses it?” I asked. She told me that it can be done by anyone who knows how to talk to God. Apparently there are not many of those people around. Many of those who can live far away, so Andrea mentioned that they might ask one of us. When I asked her what the people say to God, she answered, “Who knows…I don’t know how it’s done. I don’t know what happens when they talk to God.”
A gift of corn from one of our neighbors
When WE Talk to God…
But we know how to talk to God, right? Of course we do. Our team has been doing that since we were all little. So, what do we say in this situation? If I tell Andrea that I can talk to God, there’s a good chance she will think some of the following things about me:
• I’m very wise (but really too young for such a thing)
• I might be lying, since I’m a woman and everyone knows that women are unclean and not likely to be able to talk to God
• I’ve probably fasted, given up bathing for a time, and learned the customs from my ancestors
• I can be hired out to take the “evil” out of the people’s fields so they won’t get sick
• I might be talking to a different God (a white people’s God) and so he wouldn’t be able to help out with the corn here
And yet I DO know how to talk to God. If we are asked to bless people’s corn, should we? What could be bad about publicly thanking God for the corn that HE made, for the rains that HE sent, and for the health that HE can provide the people? In the Nahuatl’s mind, however, we would be taking the EVIL out of corn that grew with the rains the ANCESTORS sent, fueled by the food the PEOPLE put on their graves. If we bless the corn will we be seen as shaman? What happens if people eat the corn and get sick later? Will the people write off “our” God as impotent before they even know him? Will Satan bring about a banner year for sickness in order to slow down the work here?
So, what’s the answer? For my part, I talked to God about it. I don’t know. There’s no simple solution. I asked for wisdom and freely confessed that I’m not smart enough to do this on my own. There’s a need for the Nahuatl to know God and the need is urgent. On the other hand, the need for clarity about the true God, how he works, and what he expects is just as pressing.
Getting ready to dance to show gratitude for the corn harvest
When YOU Talk to God…
I humbly ask that you when you talk to God you ask him to guide our team. We must rely daily on the Father’s wisdom as we navigate cultural quagmires. Please support us, and missionaries everywhere, in prayer. Pray that we would be given the right words through the Spirit, even when our brains feel muddled. We cannot see end results. We cannot know ahead of time what will come of a decision. But we serve The One who can, so we ask Him to move us along on the right path. When YOU talk to God, ask him to help us, because we desperately need it.
Corn is the main source of food for the Nahuatl. It is dried and ground into tortillas three meals a day, every day. If the harvest suffers, the people will go without food.