Why are there friends from faraway living with us?
For more than a generation we have had new friends from far away. Some of them have white, black, or brown skin, like us. Some of them come from other countries or from our own nation to teach us things and learn about our tribal language, culture, and beliefs. While some are workers sent from our nation’s government, others are called “missionaries” and they teach us the truth about our Creator-Owner (God) and how we can please Him and love Him more. Some people called “linguists” are even helping us get the Bible, God’s Word to us, in our language! That is very exciting to us because we now know that God can speak our language too.
We can tell that these missionaries love us a lot because they come from so far away and teach us so many good things that help our entire village. We learn from them how to read and write, how to take care of ourselves better with medicine and plants, and some of them trade things with us so we can get better axes for cutting wood, fishing hooks, and other things from the city that help us live a little better.
Many of the faraway friends have brought their children to live with us too. They are called “missionary kids” and they sometimes do funny things. I’m sure they think we must do some funny things sometimes too.
Our Religious Beliefs
There are many religions in the world. Basically, “religion” refers to the system of beliefs that govern our everyday life and understanding of the physical world and spiritual world around us. The most popular world religions include Christianity (33%), Islam (18%), Hinduism (16%), Nonreligious (16%), Buddhism (6%), Chinese traditional religions (4%), primal-indigenous (or animist, 4%), and other religions (3%).
Most Indians living in the rain forest are “primal-indigenous”, or “animist”. We are moral people who believe in right and wrong. We worship many spirits that we believe are all around us, in the trees, animals, and everywhere. It can be a very frightening thing to live in fear of the spirits. We are often afraid to do things that might upset the spirits and cause harm on us. We have legends that tell of the Creator/Owner God and His book from long ago whom our forefathers once knew Him. But we believe that He left us long ago and is no longer interested in us.
It is because of our beliefs about the world around us that the missionaries come to live with us—so we can learn how to follow the one true God and trust in Jesus. You know, Jesus was kind of like a missionary. He came all the way from Heaven to live on earth in a strange place over 2,000 years ago. But because of Him, we can live forever with our Creator/Owner who loves us.