By Chuck Kelley
(RIGA, Latvia) – Before Don Richardson came to Riga last week, very few Latvians knew who he was. By the end of the week, they were lining up for him to autograph his book, Peace Child, which has now been translated in Latvian.
The story of Peace Child was one of several important missions topics presented by Dr. Richardson at the Missions Days 2008 conference in Riga, January 10-12, 2008.
Peace Child is the story of how God used Don and Carol Richardson to bring the Gospel to the Sawi people, a stone-age tribe in the jungles of what was then called Dutch New Guinea, in Indonesia.
The Sawis were known by all neighboring tribes to be cannibals and head hunters whose highest value was treachery. As a result of their life style and values, their average life expectancy was 26 years old in 1962 when the Richardsons arrived.
Within a few years, the Richardsons had learned the Sawi language, treated sickness, improved life quality and shared the Gospel in a way that the tribe could readily understand.
The key to understanding how to effectively share the Gospel with the Sawi was to understand their custom of a peace child, a baby given by a Sawi father to a father in a warring tribe. As long as that child was alive, there would be peace between the two tribes. He was the ‘peace child’. After the Sawi understood that Jesus was God’s Peace Child and that He was accessible, they turned to Christ by the thousands.
Peace Child was also made into a movie in the 70’s featuring Don and Carol themselves. The movie is the first of its kind to be translated and produced in Latvian. It was recently shown at Mission Days 2008 and at a special community service at Matthews Church, People were gripped by the power of the story.
Latvian is the 26th and most recent language that Peace Child has been translated into. It was published in Latvia as a result of a partnership between BBI/Partners and ‘Atradums’, a publishing ministry led by Bill and Donna Mauldin.
A special Peace Child Community Service with Don Richardson was held at Matthews Church where Pastor Peter Eisans has developed a passion to reach the unreached. Aelita Kuka, who translated the book, was very pleased to meet the author. He was also happy to meet her. (Aelita also translated Surprised by the Father’s Plan by Chuck Kelley.)
After the service Don lingered to sign his books for people of all ages. He also provided counsel for some, taking time to pray with them.