Introduction - Every society is proud of its traditions, culture, and historical discoveries. When I first came to Africa it amazed me at what reverence the people gave to the stories of past. Parents told legends about Joseph and his brothers to their children for instruction on how to live peacefully within the family. Teachers used fables about the tortoise and the rabbit to tell their students about the benefits of steady persistence. Even politicians used tidbits of errors to avoid in the history of former republics to persuade people to vote for them.

All of these traditions were told with such emotional fervency that it struck me of the near sanctity in legends. It was almost as if the survival of people depended on the understanding of what had happened in the past. Coming from a present and future oriented Western society this seemed like "backwards orientation" to life. However, after ten years of teaching 64 different subject in an African theological seminary, I have learned the value of using legends in teaching, preaching, leading, exhorting, counselling, as well as introducing change. In Africa it seems that using sagas in conversations is a culturally accepted way to use former precedents to determine, guide, and validate truth.

The dilemma most African Christians face in communicating revolves around the way in which African Traditional Religions should be integrated with Christianity. John Mbiti believes that African Traditional religions are largely but not entirely compatible with Christianity. He is of the continuity school that sees matters of common ground in belief of God, continuation of life after death, spiritual beings, the works of God etc. Although Mbiti acknowledges other areas of incompatibility such as magic, sorcery, and divination, he is of the view that there are many issues that lie between and which should not be detrimental to the Christian faith. It is this area of common ground that Mbiti advocates researching. (Mbiti, Crucial Issues in Missions Today, p. 151)

One of the guiding considerations in looking for this common ground is rooted in scripture. Writing in Rom. 2:14-15 to some arrogant Jews who refused to accept the Gentiles acceptance into God’s family Paul says,

"Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them."

Paul is teaching us that there are moral people in Africa who show us that the laws of God are not just written on stone or found in the writings of the Old Testament or the New Testament. In effect the law was given to Israel as a statement of God’s moral and spiritual requirements for everyone. The Moral Gentiles of Paul’s day proved by their moral actions that they had the law of God written in their hearts. This was confirmed by their consciences or the faculty within everyone that governs our actions, thoughts, emotions, and responses. Their thoughts either accused them or tried to excuse them of their sins.

Conscience is not an absolute indicator of what is true as it has been affected by the fall of man.

We must remember that Satan was the operating agent to introduce sin into the world. He came to Eve when she was apart from her husband as an indication of the lost strength through separation or disunity. She subtracted from God’s word and distorted its meaning by interpreting it according to her selfish interests. She toned down the word of God as God said, You will surely die, but Eve said, "Lest you die." She emphasized wisdom over truth.

Just as many African Traditional Religions present new ideas, so did Satan subtly introduce false or partial truths through legal appetites, desires for greatness, and through inclinations for power. He told the woman in Gen. 3:4, "You will not surely die, For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Not only did Satan accuse God of having unworthy motives, but he tried to distort the truth of God’s words. He spoke half truths to Eve. Truly her eyes were opened, but the result was quite different from what the devil promised. As a result all men became sinners through their human natures. They realized their naked shame and realized that they were separated from God. Sin divides man and distorted his thinking as it makes him at enmity with God. As a result the whole world lies under condemnation, the curse of death, and the struggle with our sin nature.

We cannot treat African Traditional Religions as if they have somehow escaped the consequences of the fall by a process of default. All of man’s minds have been darkened in their understanding through the original sin of man. Now all men’s hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jer. 17:9,10) Our minds and our consciences have been defiled so that we cannot trust our human history or traditions. Even our will have been enfeebled as Romans 7:18 says, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." We are destitute of Godlike qualities without Christ in our hearts.

Satan has always been the great deceiver and he can use any religion, cult, or philosophy as a means of deception today. At times one must see the numerous attempts to view African Traditional Religions as a precursor to Christianity in the light of the false tricks of the devil. One writer states:

"African religious beliefs and practices have provided, and continue to provide, Africa with a philosophical fountainhead for the individual’s life and for the ordering of society. African traditional religion emphasizes the common origin of all humanity. It is the sources from which a person’s sense of dignity and responsibility flow. The search for security invariably begins here and for many it is also the last resort." (Oduyoye, The Value of African Religious Beliefs and Practices For Christian Theology, p. 115)

It is agreed that African religious beliefs have a way of calling people to the basic principles of integrating the supernatural with the natural aspects of life. We need to look for these integrative aspects that can amplify the principles of the scriptures. However, to view African Traditional Religions as a "fountainhead or a foundation for philosophical beliefs" is a dangerous way to distort the truth of God’s word while disregarding the fallen nature of man.

Sometimes the conscience can be good (Acts 23:1, I Tim. 1:5) and clear (Acts 24:16, I Tim. 3:9) but it can also make us feel guilty (Heb. 10:22) corrupted (Titus 1:15), weak (I Cor. 8:7) seared (I Tim. 4:2) It is only the Spirit within a believer that transforms him through the renewing of his mind. However, we can use the tools of the God implanted positive aspects of man’s legends, minds, and histories to help move men to an understanding of their need for Christ and subsequent conformity to His likeness. (Rom. 8:29)

Here is a short test you can take to measure your own ability to link legends with spiritual lessons across cultures.

The following excerpt is taken from p. 140-145 in Bruchko. It is the amazing description of how God used Bruce Olsen to bring the gospel to the Motilone people of Venezuela, South America. See if you can circle eight legends and then record the spiritual lessons that they could be correlated with. These historical fables are keys to the deeper levels of understanding for many people’s perception of what is important. Furthermore, legends provide the answer to the questions that arise in life from children, young men and women, and anyone facing problems. Note how the legends can provide explanatory, correlative, exhortative, comforting, renewal, validating, preservative, and corrective functions. Try to see how you might relate the meanings of the legends to the essential spiritual truths for both conversion and spiritual maturity in qualitative and quantitative terms for the church. Read with a pen in your hand to make careful note of the legends which could be used to make comparisons with important spiritual truths in the scriptures.

Case Study - "And here were the Motilones in a search for God. But how could I explain things like grace, sacrifice, the incarnation? I could tell a simple story, and they would understand. But how could I communicate real spiritual truth?

A lively discussion started. The man who had been in the trees came down and joined us. He reminded us of the legend about the prophet who would come carrying the banana stalks, and that God would come out of those stalks. I couldn’t quite understand the idea behind the legend. "Why look for God to come out of a banana stalk?" I asked.

There was puzzled silence. It made sense to them, but they couldn’t explain it. Bobby walked over to a banana tree which was growing nearby. He cut off a section and tossed it toward. us.

"This is the kind of banana God can come from," he said, It made sense to them, but they couldn’t explain it. One of the Motilones reached down and swatted at it with his machete. As they lay at the base of the stalk, they looked like pages from a book. Suddenly a word raced through my mind. "Book! Book!" I grabbed up my pack and took out my Bible. I opened it. Flipping through the pages, I held it toward the men. I pointed to the leaves from the banana stalk, then back to the Bible.

One of the Motilones grabbed the Bible out of my hand. He started to rip out pages and stuff them in his mouth. He thought that if he ate the pages he would have God inside him.

When nothing happened, they began to ask me questions. How could I explain the gospel to them? How could I explain that God, in Jesus, had been like them?

Suddenly I remembered one of their legends about a man who had become an ant. He had been sitting on the trail after a hunt, and had noticed some ants trying to build a home. He’d wanted to help them make a good home, like the Motilone home, so he’d begun digging in the dirt. But because he was so big and so unknown, the ants had been afraid and had run away.

Then miraculously, he had become an ant. He thought like an ant, looked like an ant, and spoke the language of an ant. He lived with the ants and they came to trust him... But at the moment he was turned back into a Motilone, and began to move the dirt into the shape of a Motilone home. This time the ants recognized him and let him do his work, because they knew he wouldn’t harm them. That was why, according to the story, the ants had hills that looked like Motilone homes.

As the story flashed into my mind, for the first time I realized its lesson: if you are big and powerful, you have to become small and weak in order to work with other weak beings. It was a perfect parallel for what God had done in Jesus. How could I be sure that I would convey the right things about the incarnation?

I couldn’t. Yet I felt sure God had given me this time to speak. So I took the word for "becoming like an ant," and used it for incarnation. "God is incarnated into man," I said. They gasped. There was tense, hushed silence.The idea that God had become a man stunned them.

"Where did He walk?" the witch doctor asked in a whisper.

Every Motilone has his own trail. It is his personal point of identity. You walk on someone’s trail if you want to find him. God would have a trail, too. If you want to find God you walk on His trail. "Show us Christ," he said in a coarse whisper. "I fumbled for an answer. "You killed Christ," I said. You destroyed God." His eyes got big. "I killed Christ? I did that? How did I do that? And how can God be killed?" I wanted to tell them that Jesus’ death had freed them from meaninglessness, from death, and the powers of evil. "How does evil, death, and deception find power over the Motilone people?" I asked. "Through the ears," Bobby answered, because language is so important to the Motilones. It is the essence of life. If evil language comes through the ears, it means death.

"Do you remember," I said, "how after a hunt for wild boars the leader cuts the skin from the animal and puts it over his head, to cover his ears and keep the evil spirits of the jungle out?" They nodded listening closely. "Jesus Christ was murdered," I said. "But just as you pull the skin over the chieftain’s head to hide his ears, so Jesus - when he died - pulled His blood over your deception and hides it from the sight of God."

I picked up my Bible, opened it, and said, "The Bible speaks that Jesus came alive after death, and is alive today." One of the men grabbed the Bible from my hand and put it to his ear."I can’t hear a thing." he said. I took it back. "The way the Bible speaks does not change," I said. I showed him the page, and told him that the little black markings had meaning. "No one has ever come back from the dead in all Motilone history," he said. "I know," I replied. "But Jesus did. It is proof that He is really God’s Son." "Bobby, I said. "do you remember my first Festival of the Arrows, the first time I had seen all the Motilones gathered to sing their songs (of legends, purposes, and troubles)?" The festival was the most important ceremony in the Motilone culture.

"Do you remember that I was afraid to climb in the high hammocks (Beds suspended by ropes between two tall trees) to sin, for fear that the rope would break? And I told you that I would sing only if I could have one foot in the hammock and one foot on the ground?" "Yes, Bruchko." "And what did you say to me?"

He laughed. "I told you had to have both feet in the hammock. `You have to be suspended.’ I said." "Yes," I said. "You have to be suspended. That is how it is when you follow Jesus, Bobby. No man can tell you how to walk His trail. Only Jesus can. But to find out you have to tie your hammock strings into Him, and be suspended in God."

The next day he came to me."Bruchko," he said, "I want to tie my hammock strings into Jesus Christ. But how can I? I can’t see Him or touch Him." "You have talked to spirits, haven’t you?" "Oh," he said, "I see now." The next day he had a big grin on his face. "Bruchko, I’ve tied my hammock strings into Jesus. Now I speak a new language." I didn’t understand what he meant. "Have you learned some of the Spanish I speak?"

He laughed, a clean, sweet laugh. "No, Bruchko, I speak a new language." Then I understood. To a Motilone, language is life. If Bobby had a new life, he had a new way of speaking. His speech would be Christ-centered. We put our hands on each other’s shoulders. My mind swept back to the first time I had met Jesus, and the life I had felt flow into me. Now my brother Bobby was experiencing Jesus himself, in the same way. He had begun to walk with Jesus.

"Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!" Bobby shouted, so that the sound filtered far off into the jungle. "He has walked our trails! I have met Him!" From that day our friendship was enhanced by our love for Jesus. We talked constantly about Him, and Bobby asked many questions. But he never asked the color of Jesus’ hair, or whether He had blue eyes. To Bobby, the answers were obvious: Jesus had dark skin, and His eyes were black. He wore a G-string belt around his waist, and hunted with bows and arrows. Jesus was a Motilone.

Were you able to identify and connect the following eight legends to spiritual lessons throughout the story? Notice that many of the legends use particular object lessons to transmit a concept into tangible - visual dimensions. Here is a brief description of the legends and their correlating spiritual lesson from the scriptures:

1. Banana stalks represented the scriptures. (John 1:1) As Jeremiah said, "Your words were found I ate them and they became the joy and the delight of my heart."

2. As animal skins were used to protect hunters from evil spirits so the blood of Christ covers all our sins. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins."

3. The trails symbolized a person’s identity. In order to learn of Jesus a man had to follow his trail. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father except by me." (John 14:6)

4. Being suspended in the hammock represented trust in the traditions of the Motilone people. Similarly, being supported by Jesus signified Bobby’s trust in Him for salvation. (John 1:12)

5. As a Motilone man became an ant in order to help them construct their homes so Christ became a man to help us have a home in heaven. The incarnation of Christ is best seen in the legend of the ants through his willingness to become weak in order to win the weak. Paul said, "I have become all things to all men that by all means I may save some." (I Cor. 9:22)

6. The songs of the Motilone were used to communicate truths, beliefs, and important problems for the people to settle. Similarly, Bobby sang a new song about Jesus that helped the Motilone people turn to Christ as their Savior.

7. The language of the Motilones represented their life. When Bobby became a Christian he spoke a new language that was Christ centered. When a person is in Christ he becomes a new creation. He sees life with new eyes, understands spiritual issues, and speaks in words not formerly understood.

8. Receiving evil language through the ears meant death to the Motilones. Similarly, receiving evil in the mind of a man can lead him to death, but receiving truth through the mind can bring life. Paul spoke of this in Romans when he said, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom.8:6-8)

Legends are wonderful tools to help one discover keys of information to a culture.

When I have asked my students at the seminary to identify some of their legends it awakens their minds to covert assumptions that they have about God, leadership, salvation etc. By studying their own presuppositions about faith, forgiveness, and eternal life they are able to identify areas of confusion in their congregations. Conflicts can be avoided and dealt with by integrating the rich relations between legends and present day realities. This helps teachers and preachers to communicate the abstract Biblical truths into concrete legend illustrations. For example, one summer at Wheaton College, I found a systematic theology written by Don Jacobs during his missionary days in East Africa. He explained that in his early days of seminary instruction in Biblical theology, he struggled to communicate effectively to the people. Serious frustrations resulted both for the teacher and the students when he tried to teach the students using Western style theological approaches. Overt and covert misinterpretations and syncretisms on the part of the students convinced Dr. Jacobs of his need to contextualize his teaching. In order to get around the problem he came up with a dramatic method of teaching theology. During the first part of the course, he led the students in a systematic investigation of their traditional myths and beliefs. He writes:

"The investigation made me more aware of the capacity of the "communication channel of legends" through which the theological message could pass. It also provided me with valuable guidelines as to where to begin, what to emphasize and at what points to warn my students about subtle differences. However, it also produced dividends for the students. The semester of mythological and religious investigation brought into their consciousness many of their determinative, but usually covert, beliefs and values. This overt awareness of their traditional religious heritage not only assisted them in gaining a fuller and clearer understanding of Christianity, it also helped them avoid many of the pitfalls of misinterpretation and syncretism that usually confuse African students of Christianity." (Smalley, p. 332)

Most Africans have realistic attitudes toward the problem-solving capacity of legends. By gleaming from the wisdom of sagas, Africans can draw from a rich reservoir of wisdom. Discerning which aspects are truth and which are partial truths require the direction of the Spirit and the word of God. (I Cor. 2:14-16) This discretionary ability comes with practice, but it must be carefully taught by examining the presuppositions behind each myth For example,

Case Study - Jacob Loewen tells about how myths can remain intact while the meaning is changed or re-interpreted to suit the situations. He gives an illustration of the Toba of Argentina Chaco who practice puberty rituals for their youths ready for marriage. It seems that each young person is required to faint before being allowed to enter an official stage of puberty - declaring him or her fit for marriage. This was based on an old myth concerning the original creation of women. He shares the missionary’s report as follows:

"On Saturday night a group of young people danced until they fainted. The meeting lasted from 6:30 in the evening until well past two o’clock on Sunday morning. At the Sunday morning service the same young people came forward to give themselves to God. One by one they were again seized with the spirit and then they danced ecstatically. When we inquired what this meant, the believers explained that the unconverted young people had been full of bad gozo (Literally in Spanish ’joy’, but here the meaning is "conviction of sin" or consciousness of being evil) and that they had to die to this bad gozo so that they could give themselves to God and be filled with good gozo. In this case the ritual reinforcing the myth was filled with new content, but the burden of the basic meaning remained intact." (Smalley, p. 317)

Loewen is explaining how we need to be careful of the mixing of meanings in the use of myths, rituals, and old traditional ceremonies with Christianity. By resurrecting old legends without carefully interpreting them in the light of the scriptures corruption of truth may occur. Nevertheless by using an old legend to communicate new truth one can be a facilitator of truth couching it in understandable forms. Through this process of learning to substitute new meanings for old ones, we are in effect replacing the internal beliefs, realities, and allegiances by using accepted vehicles called legends.

Example - Whenever our church planters from Jos E.C.W.A. Seminary go into a new area, they are taught how to ask questions about legends as a gateway of communication. Often they struggle to know how to filter out real truth from traditional ideals. Yet the cordial atmosphere that is created through this humble attitude is well worth the effort. Using informants, the missionaries are able to discover the meanings of legends, the nature of myths about creation, the religious systems and how they influence the people, the world view make-up of the people (Perspectives of realities, truth, beliefs, values, behaviors, social structures, and emotions etc.) along with basic themes of the culture that underlay their basic sense of meaning.

For example, one of our church planters discovered that people in Kantagora of Niger State in Nigeria highly regarded the advise given by the witchdoctor. Since, no one in the village was willing to offer him accommodation, he risked his own life by living with the witchdoctor. During this time, everyone in the village thought that it was only a matter of time before the missionary would succumb to sickness through the powers of the witchdoctor. Most of the people feared the witchdoctor for his tremendous power gotten through his intimate knowledge of the spirits. However, as the missionary ate, slept, and chatted with the witchdoctor he became privy to many of the legends, myths, and deep beliefs of the people of Kantagora area. One day, the people came to the missionary asking him about his God. First, the witchdoctor insisted that every male must share a meal together before the missionary spoke. Just then, a large bowl of ground insect soup was set before the 12 men seated in a circle in the witchdoctor’s house. The missionary prayed that God would perform a miracle enabling him to live through the meal in order that he could tell the people about the gospel. He even prayed, "Lord, just leave me long enough to explain the gospel and then I will be willing to die and go to heaven."

Just then, something happened that had never happened before in the witchdoctor’s house. The traditional medicine man stood up, picked up the bowl of insect soup and offered it to the missionary first. Everyone stared intently as the missionary raised the bowl to his mouth and swallowed a large amount of the soup. Some thought it was a trick on the part of the witchdoctor to poison the missionary, since he despised what he represented. Nevertheless, when everyone saw that the missionary did not die, they felt secure enough to share in the soup as well. However, within minutes everyone in the house became sick except the missionary. Quickly, the missionary said, "I believe you have a legend that when you are sick you come to the witchdoctor for healing. Let me introduce you today to The Great Physician who can heal all your diseases both physical and spiritual!" Within minutes every man, who was prayed for, recovered from their illness. It did not take long before the missionary started a church using the men in that house as some of the elders of the new church in Kantagora. The missionary learned how to rightly use a comparison of legends with the personification of Jesus that met critical needs. Too much of our cross-cultural communication does not effectively use legends to penetrate to the deeper levels of essential needs of the people.

The Basic Functions of Legends

1. Legends are sources of information about the culture, beliefs, and practices of a people group. Many problems can be averted during the adaptation to Christianity from A.T.R. beliefs through a knowledge of legends. When you are able to interpret the actions and reactions of the people through an understanding of their histories you can ease them through the transitions to Christian beliefs. A lack of knowledge of legends can be dangerous or counter productive for those who are trying to bring about changes. Jacob Loewen tells about the dangers of preaching the scriptures without an understanding of how they are interpreted. He says,

"After two decades of mission work, missionaries were becoming increasingly aware that in spite of all their preaching against pagan practices, many of these were still being carried on. It was during a discussion of mythology that the missionaries discovered even the believers were still convinced the curing ceremony was from God and not from the devil. The story is explained by Loewen on page 288 of Smalley’s Anthropology Reader as follows:

" One day while god and the people were walking through the forest, a poisonous snake suddenly bit god in the hand. It was a very poisonous snake, so all the people expected him to swell up at once and die. However god told them: "Don’t be afraid. I will not die. This happened so that I could teach you how to cure illness when you get sick once I am gone." Then he spoke some hard words and blew talent magic on his hand, and at once he was completely restored. Then he taught "hard" words to the people so that they also would be able to cure."

Some of the leading Christians in the community took this story wrongly. They interpreted it to mean that if you have something against an enemy that the hard words can be used to heal or to inflict illness. For some they believed that if one just kneels behind someone in a prayer meeting and mutter some of the bad, "hard" words and blow on him then at once he will become ill and die. Or in contrast if some friend is sick you simply blow on him uttering the hard words and he will be restored to perfect health.

This shows how myths and legends can be interpreted wrongly and be self-deluding. Without application of proper hermeneutics and principles of contextualization, grave distortions can hinder growth of Christ’s kingdom in qualitative and quantitative measures.

2. A Biblical understanding of legends can help prevent syncretism and increase the depth of permeation of the scriptures. Many missionaries have felt that their message is not finding adequate levels of penetration into people’s hearts. Peter Elkin says, "For the most part the missionary message has had little effect o native life. With a few exceptions the people have preserved their traditional religion in belief, if not in practice. For example, when the German Lutheran missionaries were interned during World War 2, the people of Markam Valley in New Guinea at once returned to openly practice their pre-Christian fertility rites saying: "If the missionaries asked us who made our crops grow, we told them it was as they said: God, who lived above, made them come up. But we knew it was not God. It was the magic we had performed that made the yams grow big. Food does not come up on its own, and if we stopped these things we would have nothing. We hid them and knew our gardens would be well."

Surely, this is not the case for all converts, but it does raise a point of concern for cross-cultural communicators of the gospel. We must be aware of the level with which the message of the scriptures is reacted to.

3. Legends can be an aid to meeting the felt needs of people. Many have indicated their desire to come to Christ as a response to a need meeting ministry of a Christian friend. When cross-cultural communicators are able to identify points of frustration through legends as Paul did in Acts 17 with the unknown gods, these can become keys to opening doors of understanding. By looking for these elements of dissatisfaction, emptiness, fear, or troubles in legends, a communicator can relate the scriptural solutions as remedies. For example, Choco people in Panama felt frustrated that they could not get together for social fellowships with fearing one another. Jacob Loewen shares that usually their main fellowship revolved around drinking, but since the church did not approve of this the people felt blocked by the Christians’ disapproval. On the other hand, the community resisted the idea of coming together for drinking festivals since several people had recently been poisoned by those seeking vengeance. As a result few people wanted to attend the festivals for fear of being poisoned. Additional complications arose when anyone absent from the festivals became immediate suspects of those who planted the poison in the drinks. Consequently, the people longed for the interactive benefits of the fellowships, but were blocked by their own fears. Suddenly, a wise Pastor made use of the legend to show how the church community could meet a great felt need. Pastor Aureliano organized a week-end eating festival in connection with the church services. He showed films, had games, and celebrated the oneness they had around Christ in ways similar to the Christians in Acts 2:41-47. In that way the gospel helped bridge the gaps and meet social needs that had previously been met through traditional practices. He was actualizing the function of the legend while changing its essential meanings. He saved the community from social disintegration and won most of the community to Christ in the process.

3. Legends can identify how traditional views of salvation can facilitate understanding of the gospel. Kenneth Enang writing in The African Experience of Salvation based on the Annang Independent Churches of Nigeria says on p. 107,108,

"In the Annang tradition salvation presumes six different meanings, first from the negative sense:

a. The transference from a state of danger to a peril-free one. Such peril could be provoked by natural phenomena like a storm, hunger, sickness or it could be caused by a human enemy or a malevolent deity.

b. Freedom from physical attack.

c. Protection from whatever would inflict a jeopardy.

Next from the positive sense:

a. Increase and progress in the state that is conceived as safe, prosperous, glorious.

b. Maintenance of a peaceful relationship with the objects and persons on which and whom one’s own harmony and that of the world around one, depend.

Thus the Annang can only say that he has been saved, when the different activities which, on his behalf and because of him, betook themselves into action, have produced a success in the end.

This implies that his struggle implies a state of peril. Within this is a danger from which he wants to free himself. This state poses a threat to him otherwise he would not struggle to get out of it. Were the state a welcome one, he would either remain there and feel safe or he would look upon its continuation in harmony. This state touches his very being otherwise he would not think he is very much committed to struggle out of it. Generally, the struggling man has some awareness, in Annang culture, of a deficiency in him that is caused by the state in which he finds himself."

From this Enang postulates that every Annang person wants salvation to free him from one’s state of peril, deficiency, and struggle. Through this knowledge of the Annang perception of salvation, a cross-cultural communicator could link the essentials of the gospel through a knowledge of God, Christ, man’s condition in sin, faith, and eternal life. However, one must be careful to balance the presentation of the message of salvation to both the positive and negative aspects of salvation along with its implications for change.

4. Legends help cross-cultural communicators to locate points of conflict in the people’s perceptions. Recently, some of our gospel team members journeyed to Dare of Nasarawa local government of Plateau State. To their surprise they discovered that the people felt that life is continuous without any final judgment. Several of the elders took our evangelists to their gravesights to explain their concepts of life after death. Apparently, when a Dare man dies, they dig a grave the size of an average house for him. This will allow him to move around and entertain other ancestral friends and spirits. Formerly, the tribe rejected Christianity because they disagreed with the Christian notion that after death comes a final judgment before God. Instead of arguing about points of conflict the evangelists shared the opportunities for fellowship with God for eternity through faith in Jesus Christ. They stressed the positive aspects, purposely avoiding undue conflicts in their initial presentations of the gospel.

In another example, Jacob Loewen shares in Smalley’s Anthropology reader on page 323 about the Waunana people’s idea that God was concerned about people even after the men became alienated from Him. In the traditional view, God became angry with the Waunana people because they had bought axes from the trickster-Satan and in his anger God withdrew from them. In this sense, the missionaries were able to point out the conflict between the perception in their legend and the Biblical record. The missionary corrected the mistaken notion by explaining to the people like this,

"Your fathers told you that God was so angry with men that he withdrew from the world, but here there seems to be a mistake. Maybe this mistake developed because the story was not written, and was transmitted by word of mouth over many generations and thus got twisted."

Then the missionary explained the correct account of the origin of man, the fall, and Christ’s reconciling - sacrificial death on the cross. By searching out the discrepant views of the legends with the scriptures the missionaries were able to lead the people to Christ without superficial religiosity beliefs.

5. Legends help communicators understand how societies reinforce values. It is a misconception that the Bible sanctions any one cultural value system. For example, the scriptures do not advocate democracy over socialism or vice versa, still missionaries may communicate one as the Biblical way. Care must be taken to avoid confusing the gospel with one’s own cultural values in cross-cultural communications. The gospel is not just an individualistic experience, but involves a wholistic perspectives. It affects a person socially, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally in the context of all cultures. The proper way of demonstrating the fruits of salvation will differ according to the cultural contexts. One fascinating example of the way missionaries failed to understand the values of a people was given by Jacob Loewen after he interviewed Patsy Adams and Arlene Agnew, missionaries to the Culina with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Mexico. Here is what they described as their difficulties in communicating the gospel to another value system:

"Missionaries to the Chols in Mexico report how their early messages were "shrugged off" as irrelevant by the people. When the missionary said: "You have sinned," the people responded: "So what? We know that we do wrong."When he said: "You will go to hell if you do not repent," they said: "Fine, if its a place where there’s perpetual fire, we want to go there. Here in the mountains where we live it is always too cold." When the missionary said: "You must believe in Jesus Christ if you want to be saved," the people answered: "We don’t only believe in him, we already have his image."

The missionaries needed to communicate the gospel in a way that demonstrated Christ’s relevance to the Chols’ value systems. For example, the Chols valued healing as a sign of supernatural power. Perhaps, the missionaries lacked faith to believe God for particular instances of healing in the village. Or perhaps there were certain festivals that the people valued that could be platforms for the gospel to display its fruits through giving, drama, or film shows. More likely, the missionaries need to learn to how to sit and listen to the people to discover what they prize most highly in their cultural systems. Learn to communicate in the value system closest to the primary emphasis of the peoples’ merit systems. This means using the rewards that they consider significant to acquire or helping them avoid the consequences that they fear most.

6. Look for substitutes, replacements, or fulfillments of the legends of the people. When Albert Brandt, a Sudan Interior Missionary grew frustrated at the hardness of the hearts of the Ethiopians back in the 1936, he prayed, "Lord open my eyes that I may see channels of truth to these peoples’ inner most hearts." One day, he sat down underneath the shade of a tall tree to rest. When he woke up from a brief nap, he raised his head to see hundreds of people around him. He thought to himself, Perhaps, the people are here to kill me for upsetting them with the message of the gospel. However, when he asked one of the elders why all the people had gathered around him the man spoke about one of their most prized legends. He said, We have a tradition that someday, a man would sit down underneath the shade of this ancestral tree and read the messages of God from a book coming out from under his right arm. We noticed that you were carrying a book under your right arm so we want to know if you are the fulfillment of our ancient legend. Albert Brandt later recalls that he did not bother to analyze the situation at the time, but he took advantage of the opportunity to preach the gospel to all within listening distance. Soon, the entire area of Ethiopia saw converts everywhere. Today, there are over 3,000 S.I.M. related churches in Ethiopia that trace their roots back to the fulfillment of this particular incident. Remember the words of Jesus who communicated to the Jews through their legends, "I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them." (Matt. 5:17)

7. A knowledge of legends can help couch the message in acceptable forms. Learning how to communicate in terms that are meaningful, acceptable, and palatable is a key to cross-cultural communication. Each culture has conditioned appetites for what they are ready to digest. Failure to put the scriptural message in forms that are digestible could lead to "spiritual indigestion" in the receptor cultures’ minds. For example, several years back, I conducted film evangelism in a remote village of Kaduna State in Nigeria. Before we could show the film, the hour grew late and we had not eaten for 12 hours. Our kind hostess served up a delicious looking dinner of fried chicken and pounded guinea corn mash. While all of my colleagues from the seminary feasted on the food, I thought to myself, "I had better eat wholeheartedly to show my identification, plus I was terribly hungry." However, as we moved to the church to show the film, something awful happened to my stomach. Since, my body was not conditioned to digest this large amount of crushed corn meal, it started to expand. I had not realized the consequences of trying to digest three cokes, two pieces of chicken and a healthy portion of corn meal all at once. My digestion system lacked the proper enzymes to break down this mixture of food and my stomach reacted violently. For four hours, I sat in excruciating pain while the film evangelism ministry went on without me. All because my system was not properly programmed to accept the food that I had ingested.

Each time I share that painful, but somewhat humorous experience with my students they understand the importance of being good stewards of the scriptures with their audiences. It is our responsibility to serve the word of God to the people in dishes that are palatable, digestible, and in acceptable forms that the people are somewhat conditioned to receive. Trying to communicate across cultures without a knowledge of the legends that conditioned mens’ minds for what is sacred, truth, and believable may produce painful results. What we don’t know can in fact hurt.

8. Legends are used to entertain and stimulate social interactions. When a story is told, the narrator usually gets so excited that he begins to act out characters to the delight of the audience. There is such a high entertainment value in legends that it is easy to see why they have such enduring value. In societies where group interactions are highly prized, legends provide an excellent platform for socialization. It is through the tales that parents can enjoy the company of their friends while their children question specific parts of the legends. This provides community unity, cohesiveness, and a solidarity of identity. Some communities have refused to give up their legends for more social than spiritual reasons. Legends also afford the elders a chance to correct, re-interpret, and instruct the people with their powers of authority. In fact, the underlying significance behind many legends may be more in the hidden curriculum than the overt ones. For this reason, cross-cultural communicators can ask God for wisdom in using neutral legends to communicate links to the scriptural truths. Paul Hiebert has compiled such a book called, "Case Studies in Missions" published by Baker. In it he has collected over 80 case studies that could be used as bridges in legend telling forms for the people to discuss, deliberate, and link with important truths. One example is told by Samuel Nkulila about the Christian Polygamist on page 69. Musa was man with seven wives who owned 200 cows, a big farm, and had a large amount of money in the bank. Even though Musa found salvation through Christ he expressed his problem to the Pastor by saying, "Pastor, I praise God for saving me from sin. But according to your teaching, I am supposed to have only one wife. I have seven wives and 25 children. What shall I do?" The Pastor told him that he should send the six wives away if he wanted to become a member of the church and stop living in adultery. This made Musa very sad. He said to himself, "What kind of religion is this? When one is saved, does it mean that others must be lost? I thought that coming to Jesus was supposed to take away my burdens. Now it seems that a much heavier one has fallen on me!"

Finally, the bishops of the church met together and decided that Musa could build extra houses on his compound to house his six extra wives without having to send them away. But this angered many people in the church. They said, "We are to forsake all else if we want to follow Jesus!" Finally, it was decided that the Holy Spirit and God’s word are sufficient to convict Musa and his wives of the correct choices to make. The elders finally decided that Musa could stay with his wives, trusting the Holy Spirit would speak to the "illegitimate" wives and convict them to leave Musa. Eventually, the true wife would remain while the others would be given time to make necessary adjustments to a life of their own. God’s grace would be sufficient for them. (2 Cor. 12:9)

From this point a lively discussion would probably follow over the merits and demerits of such a decision. But the story teller has the unique privilege of explaining the ministry of the Holy Spirit through it all. Further benefits of rapport building, entertaining, and stimulation of thinking will result from such an approach to neutral legend sharing.

9. Legends work to validate one’s culture, security, practices, and purposes. By learning about the answers to basic questions through legends cross-cultural communicators are able to have foundational understandings for peoples’ existence. Furthermore, an evangelist can figure out what are the principles and motivations for life through legends. Legends tell us a great deal about the cohesive factors in the unity of a community. For example, five years ago I researched Hausa proverbs for a book I was writing. Several strategic moments during curriculum development committees at Jos E.C.W.A. Seminary I would use one of these proverbs with the Nigeria faculty to emphasize my point. One day, we were debating over where we can get enough funding in order to begin our new graduate school of theology. I used a proverb that said, "If one wants to be assured of getting plenty of soup along with his corn meal, he needs to stay close to the stove in the kitchen." Actually, the idiomatic meaning of the proverb translates better by saying, "If you want certain benefits, you need to stay close to the person or the source of the best resources. Everyone in the room, immediately agreed with the point and we went on to the next issue. What would have taken weeks of committee meetings and some back-room politicking got accomplished through the use of one form of acceptable proverbial language that reaffirmed the majority’s background identity, practice, beliefs, and cultures. Learn legends and idiomatic expressions of traditions to express your points. This will facilitate the understanding and at the same time affirm parts of the people’s identity, values, and cultural norms.

10. Legend sharing is a way of overcoming the ethnocentric barriers in cross-cultural communications. Whenever I taught using my principles oriented style of teaching, the seminary students tended to listen politely, but learn very little. However, as soon as I started using a story form of problem-solution learning methods, the students begin to be transformed cognitively, affectively, behaviorally, and spiritually. Part of the reason for this seems to be that there is an inherent resistance in any culture to foreign imperialism. By this I mean that no culture wants to feel inferior to another either in social, educational, or spiritual ways. However, when I started to preach, teach, and interact with the leaders of our church in Nigeria through legends, I began to see great receptivity. I went to a village called Agingi with one of my church planters from the seminary. We met one of the elders of a new church to discuss the ways in which we could help set up the church building and get the church its own local church board status. As we sat on the veranda of the house chatting with several elders, women, and children intently listening, it seemed that there was interest, but no conviction about the need to move ahead with the new church building until I told the legend about the first S.I.M. church in Jos that refused to start a daughter church back in 1956. For years they claimed that they would lose money, members, and influence in the community if they started another church. For three years God began to remove his blessing from their congregation. They lost offering money, they lost members over divisions in the ranks, and they lost influence to more progressive denominations that were fast moving into Jos. Finally, they agreed to start a daughter church when they learned that many of their wives were miscarrying and they were afraid of more chastening from God. Within two years, the daughter church grew to the size of the mother church. Both churches enjoyed greater giving, blessings, and influence throughout the community. This legend allowed the elders of the Agingi church to clearly reflect on a historical incident that showed the truths of Ex. 23:25 which says,

"Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land."

Then I connected this legend of Bishara #1 with God’s angel who prepared the way for the Israelites in Exodus 23:14-33. Here the feast of harvest was held to celebrate in worship of God. The Lord promised His people that if they would listen to Him and not rebel against Him he would bless them. His angel would go ahead of them and bring them into the land of the enemies and wipe them out. Then He would establish their borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines etc. He would even send hornets ahead of them to drive the enemies out of the promised land. He would do it in a way that the land would not become desolate. He warned them not to go after their idols and false gods as they would become a snare to them. However, if they rebelled against Him He would oppose the and become an enemy against them. He would send terror and throw confusion to everyone. By linking these two legends together, the elders understood the importance of starting the process for setting up a new church building. By emphasizing both the positive and negative reasons for beginning a movement toward qualitative and quantitative growth of God’s kingdom, the Lord will bless all involved.

11. Legends have a way of bringing increased accountability to the people. Often the recipients of cross-cultural communication are initially responsive to the message of the gospel, but fail to follow through with their original decisions of faith. To increase the sense of spiritual, moral, and community accountability I have learned an entire arsenal of legends on judgment are very effective in Africa. One of my favorites comes from a former student who came back from his field service with this story. One day the student Pastor got out of a taxi and handed the driver a N1.00 note. The taxi driver gave the Pastor back 90 kobo. Instantly, the Pastor thought to himself, "This is my lucky day, the taxi driver made a mistake and gave me too much change." As the Pastor started to walk away, the Holy Spirit convicted his heart about his dishonesty. Gradually, he turned and started to try to catch the taxi driver before he pulled away. However, the taxi driver had not moved an inch. When he approached the driver the student Pastor said, "You made a mistake by giving me too much change. Here is 40 kobo that I owe you. Surprisingly, the taxi driver smiled and said to the Pastor. "NO, I DID NOT MAKE A MISTAKE!. I HEARD YOUR SERMON YESTERDAY ON HONESTY IN CHURCH. I WANTED TO SEE IF YOU REALLY MEANT WHAT YOU SAID! NOW I CAN SEE THAT YOU ARE REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE PREACHING ABOUT!

Learn to use legends that will span the wholistic dimensions of the development of life - social, spiritual, mental, physical, cultural, etc. This will enable you to communicate with the breadth and depth of understanding that is necessary to help people grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Eph. 4:11-16). This increased accountability for all aspects of life will give your messages better balance and wholistic perspectives to your audiences.

12. Use legends to show the power of God over the power of evil forces. A reoccurring theme in Africa is the struggle between the forces of light and darkness. Legends that describe this conflict between forces of good and evil are found in A.T.R. in all ethnic groups. Personifications of Satan as a wise trickster trying to deceive other supernatural spirits is common among African legends. One Igbo student told me a true account of this kind of power encounter after the Biafran war. As a Pastor with the Assembly of the Redeemed mission, he explained how Satan deceived many with promises of instant prosperity during the dismal days following the war. As many were struggling to reconstruct their businesses, a mysterious spirit appeared to many offering them instant prosperity in exchange for a human sacrifice. Apparently, several business men made agreements with the spirits of prosperity in Enugu. They agreed that if the spirits would help them restore their businesses to affluence, they would sacrifice one of their family members to them after five years. After five years, the business men experienced such success, that they expanded their stores throughout Nigeria. However, two businessmen reneged on their promises to the spirits refusing to offer the human sacrifice. Strangely, selected fires destroyed each of these businessmen’s buildings and inventories. Their entire wealth accumulated over five years vanished instantly. Nothing escaped the fires. Nothing escapes God’s notice. If people make deals with the devil, he will eventually demand re-payment. Temporary prosperity is not the price of long term regrets. God is the only one who can add blessings without sorrows. Many superficial blessings may be a trap from the devil to lure people into dangerous temptations.

Although this same truth may be communicated by expositing Eph. 6:10-18 where Paul says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,." it often fails to communicate, to the minds of many Africans, like the above legend. The story form provides elements of drama, passion, and the interactions between the human and supernatural forces so central to life in all of Africa.

13. Legends have a way of humorously pointing out deficiencies of beliefs. Humor is a great antidote for many problems, but Africans seem to have mastered the art and science of medicinal humor. Several years ago, I found myself in the middle of a hot debate with several Ph.D. colleagues over the seminary’s budget expenditures. While several men wanted us to spend more money on journals, periodicals, and scholarly research materials, the other half felt the money should be spent on staff housing. Just as the debate moved into a full blown argument, one man shared the following legend:

"One day there were two hunters hunting lions in the jungle. Just as they spotted a lion, they both aimed and fired their rifles. However, to their surprise, the guns refused to work. After several frantic efforts, one of the Europeans looked at his friend in panic and said, "What should we do, the lion is starting to run toward us!" The other man said, "I guess we should do the only thing that any man in this desperate situation would do - pray!" The first man said, "That’s all right for you, but I do not know how to pray. You had better pray for us." Just as the lion was about ready to pounce on the hunters, the man bowed his head and prayed the only prayer he had ever learned. "Lord, for what we are about to receive, we are truly thankful!"

The wise old faculty member shared the relevance of the lesson of that legend. He said, "Gentlemen, sometimes we get ourselves in trouble when we make decisions when we are under stress and for which we have not fully prepared ourselves!" Immediately, the discussion resumed controlled objective thinking. The matter was deferred to another time, so that an investigative committee was set up to research the matters at hand in greater detail. Legends can use humor to diffuse difficult situation, save face, and help us sort out complex issues with greater objectivity.

14. Legends from other cultures have capacities to communicate across the natural barriers of human understanding. As the human race shares many similarities, so do legends. These are powerful tools in communicating profound truths in simple vignettes. By explaining the nature of the problem, its aspects, phases, characteristics, severity, causes, and contexts, folklores can make the complex appear straight forward. Today, the U.K. designate director of Sudan Interior Mission shared a graphic example of one such legend from his culture to our Nigerian seminary audience. He said,

"One day a government road surveyor knocked on the door of a farmer and said, ’I would like to survey your fields for a new road we will be running through your property.’ The farmer said, ’I do not want the road to break up my good farming ground.’ Quickly, the surveyor reached in his pocket pulling out an official looking document. ’Here is my AUTHORITY from the federal government to survey your property. Either you comply with the law or go to jail!’ The farmer shrugged his shoulder and said, ’Follow me to the field, I will unlock the front gate for you and your surveying team!’

As the surveyor began to work, the farmer walked slowly to the end of the field. However, little did the surveyor realize what the farmer was up to. Quietly he opened the back gate to his fields allowing a raging bull to come charging at the surveyor. Shocked, the surveyor went running for his life. As soon as the surveyor passed the farmer he yelled, ’Why don’t you do something to stop the bull?’ The farmer smiled rather smugly and said, ’Show him your paper, you are the one with the authority!’"

David went on to explain to the seminary students the lesson of the story. Even though the surveyor had all the authority he needed to do the job, he lacked power to implement his authority. Many people in our churches have all authority through Jesus Christ’s great commission in Matt. 28:119,20, but they somehow lack the power to carry it out. Jesus said, to the Pharisees in Mark 12:24, ’You err because you do not understand the scriptures or the power of God.’ Power comes from a pure, righteous, and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. Without power we cannot move forward or overcoming hindrances to maturity. However, without authority, all the power in the world will not help us to expand God’s kingdom or overcome temptations. We need a proper combination of authority and power to accomplish the work of God through the grace of God in the will of God. Hudson Taylor once said,

"The will of God will not lead us where the grace of God will not keep us!"

Learn to use legends cross-culturally by finding the common denominator points between cultures and the scriptures that overcome barriers to understanding.

15. Legends reveal the power of uncovering people’s hidden knowledge of God and His plan for their lives. Don Richardson tells about a fascinating example of how God has hidden eternity in their hearts in his book of the same name on p. 97-100. He writes:

"One day Young went to the marketplace to preach among the Shan people, most of who were Buddhists. Young Read Moses’ Ten Commandments aloud. Then holding his Bible aloft - with the sun gleaming on its white pages - he began to preach about the laws of "the True God."

As he preached, Young noticed strangely garbed men gravitating toward him out of the throng in the market. Obviously, they were not Shan people. Later he discovered that they were Lahu men who had chosen that day to descend from distant mountains to trade their wares in the market of Kengtung. Soo they completely surrounded William Marcus Young. They stared incredulously at his white face, the white interior of the book in his hand, and listened to his description - in the Shan language - of the laws of God contained in that book.

Then in an outburst of powerful emotion, the Lahu pleaded with William Marcus Young to follow them up into the mountains. In fact, they practically kidnapped him: "We as a people have been waiting for you for centuries." they explained. "We even have meeting houses built in some of our villages in readiness for your coming."

Some of the Lahu men showed him bracelets of coarse rope hanging like manacles from their wrists. "We Lahu have worn ropes like these since time immemorial. They symbolize our bondage to evil spirits. You alone, as the messenger of Gwi’sha, may cut these manacles from our wrists - but only after you have brought the lost book of Gwi’sha to our very hearts!"

In 1904, William Marcus, the Karen missionaries, and Harold and Vincent, his sons, baptized 2,200 Lahu converts who had learned the basics of Christian faith. From then until 1936, when he died still in harness among the Lahu, Young saw at least 2,000 Lahu per year enter the waters of baptism. One year, he and his sons and his Karen colleagues baptized more than 4,500!"

Richardson points out that a skeptical anthropologist Hugo Adolf Bernatzik traveled through this same region in 1936-7 only to remark that "more than half of the mountain villages were now Christian," However, he scornfully indicates that "The missionaries now stand here and proclaim a NEW God and expose the shortcomings and impotence of the old gods." The implication is that the people are not really Christians, but are pretending to be converted to satisfy the missionaries. Bernatzik, represents the thousands of intellectuals who have been educated to rely on observable empirical research opposing the spiritual dynamics of faith fulfillment through legends. He, like so many cynical doubters fail to realize the power of fulfilled legends through missionaries’ witness, presence, and Spirit’s directing.

16. The book of Acts is a compilation of the legends of the Peter and Paul’s cross-cultural exemplary ministries. When Luke wrote Acts he must of realized the power of legends in demonstrating the what, whys, and how tos of cross-cultural ministries. As Paul revealed fulfillments of Athenians legends about "UNKNOWN" gods in Acts 17:23 to the scholars on Mars hill, Luke taught the early Christians how to follow Paul’s example. Dr. Luke showed how cross-cultural ministers can rely on the Holy Spirit to flush out the partially understood aspects of God through the legends of the people. The Physician companion of Paul wanted all of his readers to appreciate how millions of people around the world are worshipping gods without knowing the great God who is along worthy of their praise. Paul’s legend interpretations made some of the Athenians folklores, fears, and superstitions obsolete. He re-ordered their thinking through introducing a God of creation. By referring to the originator of life, man, and everything, Paul showed the Athenians how to reconsider the greater powers of the God who deserves more acknowledgement than an innocuous monument. In fact, the monuments were originally constructed in commemoration of Epimenides ability to sacrifice to the gods who would banish a killer plague in Athens 400 years earlier. Rather, than entering into a debate about sensitive points of history, Paul moved directly to better understanding of the Athenians legends. He used their monuments as a bridge, an eye-opener, and as a redemptive analogy for the gospel. Learning to use a knowledge of history in legend re-interpretation is a key to seeing how Dr. Luke used legends throughout Acts to provide an eternal model for cross-cultural communications of God’s messages.

17. Jesus used legends to present options for people to choose from. In Matt. 7:24-27 Jesus said gave his listeners two alternative lifestyles to select from through a figurative story. He wanted to emphasize the importance of correct choosing in building our foundations. Both kinds of builders, he assures his audience, will face a variety of trials. By implications, Jesus hints that everyone is building some kind of a lifestyle, but He indicates it is our determination on what durability it will have when problems challenge us. He personifies the first builder as a person with sensibility, foresight, and consistency in his obedience to what he knows is true. He anticipates the kinds of problems that he will have to face so as not to be caught unaware. He is careful to dig away the loose gravel beneath his house, symbolic of the impurities of life, before reaching the solid rock foundation.

In contrast, the foolish builder is sloppy, lazy, and impulsive in his constructions. He fails to take into consideration that eventually, his very foundations will be tested by the most powerful elements known to man. His misplaced confidence and presumptuous thinking will eventually lead to his destruction. He cautions the people of self-righteous hypocritical worship, like the Pharisees, who were building on the shifting sands of traditions. Falsely assuming that his house looks just a secure from the outside as that of the wise builder, this hasty builder neglects the importance of inner stabilization. His emphasis is on what people see rather than on what God sees. His ears are tuned to the words of his culture, elders, and philosophies rather than to the words of God.

This legend is a powerful demonstration of how Jesus illustratively teaches lasting truths through pictorial examples. We learn a great deal of Jesus, His audience, and His teaching style through the figurative stories in the gospels. The words, works, and ministries of Jesus reveal how legends became powerful tools for Jesus in communicating lasting truths. Christ bridges the gaps of education, gender, and culture with His supranatural ability to integrate spiritual truths with earthly examples. Cross-cultural communicators have a rich reservoir of legends used by Jesus in His 35 parables.


1. Apeh, John Social Structure And Church Planting, p. 52-55, Companion Press, Shippensburg, PA, 1989

2. Enang, Ken The African Experience of Salvation - Based on the Annang Independent Churches of Nigeria, p.107, 108, M And C Publishing London, 1985

3. Fritz, Paul 504 Sermons Illustrations For the Nigerian Pastor, p. 45, Great Commission, Jos, Nigeria, 1989

4. Hiebert, Paul Case Studies in Missions, p. 69, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1987.

5. Loewen Jacob A. Myth and Mission: Should a Missionary Study Tribal Myths? found in Smalley’s Readings in Missionary Anthropology, p. 287-332. William Carey Press, 1978

6. Mbiti, John African Religions and Philosophy, p. 189-193, Heineman, Jordan Hill, Oxford, 1990

7. McGavaran, Don, editor of Crucial Issues in Missions Tomorrow, Mbiti, John, Christianity and Traditional Religions in Africa, p. 144, Moody, 1972

8. Oduyoye, Mercy The Value of African Religious Beliefs and Practices for Christian Theology, p. 109-112, found in African Theology En Route, Pan African Conference, Dec. 17-23, 1977 in Accra, Ghana, Orbis, Maryknoll, 1979

9. Olsen, Bruce Bruchko, p. 140-170, Creation House, Altamonte Springs, Florida, 1990