A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Mission Sunday -23rd October 2016

Fr Kevin Head sm

Fr Kevin Head sm

The book Jungle Child, by Sabine Kuegler, is the story of a family of parents and three young children who went, in 1980, to live and work with the Fayu tribe in the jungle of West Papua, Indonesia. The Fayu tribe had only recently been discovered. Within the tribe there were four clans that were constantly at war, because any offence had to be avenged. Each of the clans lived in fear of being attacked by one of the others at any time. The children were quiet and didn’t even know how to play. They either stuck close to their parents or sat with their backs to trees all the time.

Peace broke out, eventually, because when two of the clans were preparing for war, dancing and chanting over a period of hours, one of the daughters of the missionary family started screaming and could not stop.

The father of the family challenged the two chiefs involved by cutting the bow strings of a number of warriors and roaring at them – ‘Do you hear the screams of my daughter? She’s screaming because she’s terrified. Listen to what you’re doing to my family.’ Nobody said a word. I stared in amazement at the scene before me. ‘I can’t do this to my family any more,’ Papa continued.

focusThen he turned to the chieftains and said, ‘I’ll give you two options. Either you stop warring around this house … or I will take my family and leave.’ … the story continues: “Shortly afterwards we heard a quiet knocking on our door. Chief Baou said that he was speaking for all present when he said that none of them wanted the family to leave. He went on to say that we had brought them hope, and they loved us. They were sorry that their behaviour had scared his daughter so much. ‘Please, stay with us. We won’t war around your house any more. We want our hearts to be good. Please stay here with your family. We will protect them and promise that nothing will ever happen to them.’ ”

It was the beginning of permanent peace.

It’s not explicitly stated in the book, nothing like it, but it’s clear that the Fayu people changed over the ten years the family lived in their midst because of the goodness of the Kuegler family – their patent love for each other, and their care and concern for the Fayu themselves prompted, We want our hearts to be good.

Obviously not everyone is called to be missionary in the manner of the Kuegler family. As missionary-disciples of Christ, though, we are called to live in such a way that we inspire those who know us to live better lives, to want their ‘hearts to be good.’ By living the good news of God’s love as best we can, and by giving what we can afford for those in need this Mission Sunday, and by praying for the Church’s missionaries, we play our part in the Church’s missionary effort.

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