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Dig In

By Nikki White

She wanted to do something special for Beatrice, something that would say, “Hey, I like you! Let’s be friends!” How could she communicate this with her limited language skills? In the end, Sarah decided on chocolate muffins. 

Sarah Brown and her husband Tony, long-term global workers in Panama, were preparing to travel to a remote indigenous Wounaan village. Even after two years, they were both feeling inadequate in their grasp of the language and culture of this people group, but felt strongly motivated to push through the communication barrier for the sake of these people that they had come to love.

While Sarah baked muffins, Tony worked on preparing a message to share. He asked two of his Wounaan friends, Ezequiel and Aristarco, to help him develop his Ephesians sermon. Together, they talked about the Scriptures, what they would mean to the Wounaan and how to apply them to specific real-life situations faced by this people group. Which analogies would be helpful? Which would simply confuse them?

 

The next day the Browns arrived at the village and found the people there excited and eager to receive them. Seeing their faces, Sarah recalled something that their teammate Einer Zuluaga had once said to them. 

“They are hungry,” Einer said of the Wounaan, “like people ready to eat, forks in hand, eager to dig in - to the Word, and to you!” Tony and Sarah felt that same hunger now.

While Tony prepared to teach, Sarah went to the hut where her friend Beatrice lived and gave her the chocolate muffins. As she handed her gift over, Sarah saw the eagerness that Einer had spoken of, there in the woman’s eyes: a desire to dig in - not just into the muffins, but deep into friendship. Later, as Tony was teaching, they saw that the listeners also had a keen appetite. The Wounaan wanted to understand, as much as Tony himself wanted to be understood. Church leaders were quick to contribute when he struggled to find the right words in Spanish. Volunteers stood to translate various parts of the teaching into their indigenous languages, and there was an extensive question and answer time afterward. The Brown’s hunger to know this people group was met with an equal hunger on the part of the Wounaan. Together, they enjoyed an opportunity to “dig in.” 

Both sides agreed: It was a feast. 

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