As a new missionary living among the Builsa people in a rural village in Ghana, West Africa, my goal was to learn the language.I also wrestled with understanding a culture that was vastly different from the American suburban culture with which I was familiar.
The proverb had plowed the ground of his heart so that the seed of the word could find readily-prepared soil.
He understood the gospel that day in a way that he never had before. This type of communication can be a powerful tool for the indigenous understanding of the gospel since it involves both cognitive and emotive elements.
It could also plow fresh ground in Muslim areas where ears are closed to the gospel but wide open to proverbs.
PROVERBS CLEAR AWAY THE FOG IN THEOLOGICAL COMMUNICATION Have you ever stood before an audience and observed a person’s eyes glaze as if his or her mind has fogged over just as you reached what you thought was the climax of a crucial theological truth?
I often observed the Builsa people engaging in lively, entertaining and seemingly effective forms of communication.
They were using traditional proverbs, which made the conversation “sweet,” meaning pleasant to listen to and easier to digest or understand.
We try to resolve the fight by using animal sacrifices or good works, but God’s word says that all of our works will one day be tested in the fire.
All of the things we do will be like millet stalks that will be burned (incidentally, millet stalks are commonly used to start fires since they ignite easily).
A Builsa pastor told the proverb, “Ba kan gering wusum kpalinsa ale kingkanga” (They cannot separate the fighting of horses with millet stalks).
The government official had never heard that proverb before and he sat there trying to understand it.