REMEMBER THE MISSION?
- Revisiting The Guarani Indians -
BACK TO THE FUTURE
I saw The Mission nearly 20 years ago at a special screening for Pastors with my wife, Michelle. She says, to this day, that the movie made her think about serving in the mission field.
We saw it again a few days ago at a stay-in cross cultural certificate course at Trinity Theological College. Kimhong Hazra the lecturer in charge of missions, was in charge of the programme. She invited us to help with a couple of sessions. The Mission was a great way to get into issues related to missions. We then added some background information to the film and highlighted themes which surfaced in the movie through a vibrant Q & A session. The students, being highly motivated adults, were serious about missions. They asked intelligent questions and made interesting comments. I thoroughly enjoyed responding to their queries and the ensuing dialogue.
A TEACHING AID
The Mission is a goldmine for anyone wishing to wrestle with issues related to, inculturation, history of missions, church & state, the limits of obedience to ecclesiastical authority, the use of violence etc. The story line, inspired by historical events, is about an imperial/ecclesiastical power play which caused the Guarani Indians to lose ownership of their settlements and churches to the imperial powers. The Jesuits, the original missioners to Guarani, were also asked to leave. Some of them, according to the movie, took up arms against the Spanish army.
The movie, although beautifully made, has its biases. It leans to the left politically. The romantic portrayal of the Guarani does nothing to dispel the myth of the noble savage.
VISTING THE GUARANI
When I first saw The Mission 20 years ago, the Guarani tribe were bit of mystery. It has been my priviledge to meet and know the Guarani in rural areas surrounding Santa Cruz, Bolivia. They are fun loving and a hospitable people. Many of them have migrated to the towns to look for jobs and a better future. The auxillary bishop of Paraguay speaks fluent Guarani. This year we were part of a team that went to provide food, medicine and blankets to flood stricken Guarani based communities. There is a strong vibrant christian testimony amongst the Guarani, especially in Paraguay.
Praise The Lord!