Vincent Donovan arrives in Masailand in 1965, to work in the Mission, but he soon comes to think that what is happening there is anything but mission. There is an excellent hospital, four great schools and even a chapel, but religion doesn’t seem to be getting a look in. No one has become a practising Christian through any of this work.
Vincent considers it his role there to talk to the people about God, and decides he wants to get out there and do it. And so he divides the nomad people into sections, who he will speak to once a week for a year.
On speaking to the elders to put the idea of speaking about God to them, their response is
If that is why you came here, why did you wait so long to tell us about this? (p22)
The elders agreed that Donovan could do this, and so his work began.
Donovan realises the problems he is up against:
- How to explain God and Christianity for a people who have no concept, or even the words, of what you are trying to tell them
- How they find a way of living out their new found faith within their own culture, rather than trying to impose our culture with our faith
- What it will mean to be a Priest from within this culture, and how that will be lived out
This is an old book, but I’m told it is the classic. I’ve heard the principles in more recent books, especially of incultration, but this book puts those theories across within a story and a context.
I’m not sure I agree with all Donovan says and does, but it’s good to make you think!
And how more relevant can a book be than to be talking about bringing God to a culture that has no understanding of what God is all about.