13 February 2007

MoreheadsMusings: Andrew Walls: Don't Know Him? You Should!

John Morehead has posted some interesting things about Andrew Walls, the Scottish missiologist: MoreheadsMusings: Andrew Walls: Don't Know Him? You Should!

I'd like to add a couple of anecdotes told by Andrew Walls. They are from a conference on church history, called Rescuing the memories of our people. It had 40 people from all over the world, church historians, missiologists, archivists and librarians. The following is an extract from my diary of 4 October 2002, and perhaps can rescue some memories of the would-be rescuers, including Andrew Walls himself:
Over coffee I talked to Alan Po of Myanmar, and he told me about the many different languages in the country, where the government was trying to use Buddhism as a political tool to drum up and maintain support, so it was rather hostile to Christianity.

Herbert Swanson joined us, and said that the Karen people of Myanmar were the oldest Protestant church in that part of Asia. He said that they had lots of stories of older brothers and younger brothers that were used by some missionaries as a toe in for the gospel.

There was also one where God was fed up with humanity, and went away, and a spirit called water buffalo wanted to go away with God, and God said he could do that, but must first return to give a message to humanity that they must eat one meal a day and comb their hair three times a day, but water buffalo got the message confused, and said that they must eat three meals a day and comb their hair once a day. So God turned water buffalo into a physical water buffalo, which is why water buffalos are dirty and wallow in the mud.

Andrew Walls joined us, and said that there were many such stories from Africa as well. He told us of the Church of the Transfigured Face, where a French Catholic order evangelised in West Africa, and were devoted to an image of the face of Christ (I assume Veronica's napkin of the one for the King of Edessa, but he did not make that clear). Later they were replaced by an Irish order that did not have this devotion, so they broke away and became an AIC of the Aladura type, just like most of the others, but retained the distinctive devotion to the Transfigured Face.

Andrew Walls also told a story of the Isle of Skye, where his daughter spent some time as a speech therapist travelling from school to school. Because they were bilingual in English and Gaelic, speech impediments were quite common. At one school the teacher said that there was a child who could not speak at all, but just babbled incomprehensibly. His daughter had examined the child, and found that he spoke with a Birmingham accent, but not only had the teacher failed to recognise it as English, she had failed to recognise it as speech at all.

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