Scott Phillips was stumped.
How would he explain the truths of Ephesians 3 to the Dao believers who live in such a remote area? How would he tell them that they were “Gentile people, but have now been undeservedly given the place of fellow heirs of the Gospel” with Jewish believers?
As Scott gathered with four Dao Bible teachers to review the lesson he started by reading the verses and then asked, “What do you think about these verses? Do you think you know what they are talking about?”
After several seconds of thinking on the verses Daapoi spoke. With a half-grin on his face, he looked at Scott and said, I think I get it.”
“You see there are two types of pigs here in our lands. The domesticated pigs we call ekena but the wild pigs we call tapiyaa.
“When we are out hunting a wild pig, every so often after we kill the pig we find that it has a few young wild piglets. So we take these little wild piglets, put them in our string bags and carry them back to our house.
“When we get to the house we will take the pig and find the teeth that will eventually turn into its tusks and we yank them out. Then we put the piglet back in the bag and just leave it hanging on the wall of the house until it gets used to its new surroundings. We begin to mash up sweet potatoes and feed the baby wild pig by hand until it is used to our presence and understands that we take care of it.
“Then we teach it to recognize our voice and our pig calls, so that when we call the other domesticated pigs the wild pig will also respond to our calls and come running to us. We wait and watch and feed it until it learns and responds to our pig calls. Then at the moment it begins to respond to our calls, and knows our voice and sees us as its caregiver we say, ’This is no longer a wild pig but from this point on it is a domesticated pig.’”
The other three Bible teachers — Debatoma, Kogipiyaa and Paatoma — began to take turns chiming in. “Yeah! That is exactly what God did for us isn’t it!”… “We Dao people are not part of the Jewish people but are Gentiles and so we were like wild pigs that had no place with God’s group of people.”… “But He has taken us from the jungle and transformed us and given us a place in His home.”… “That’s right! And He has taken care of us and fed us by His hand, and He has taught us His words and now calls us His own even though we were once nothing but wild and undeserving!”… “That is what these verses are talking about isn’t it?”
Scott laughed with joy at this awesome cultural illustration. He had just spent nearly six days wracking his brain for a way to explain this to these guys and couldn’t think of anything. But God’s Spirit working in them through His Word led them to this awesome truth in a matter of seconds.
“God is doing His work.” Scott wrote. “God’s Spirit is still working in places like Dao and all over the world … changing hearts. God’s Spirit is the greatest teacher of all teachers, teaching people in ways that we missionaries never could. As the Dao people would say, “Taking people from the jungle and changing them from wild tapiyaa into wonderfully transformed ekena.”
“Please continue to pray for the Dao Bible teachers and believers that they will continually be transformed by God’s Spirit and fall more and more in love with God’s Word as they study it and teach it.”