Planting Weeds


Another morning, after the mists and rain had cleared from the hills, John rang the "bell" for class. (He would bang a stone on the empty oxygen cylinder he had found in a dump at the coast, and the clang would reverberate down the valley. Since none of the men had watches, the system worked well.)

This day, as the students arrived at the teaching hut, they were astonished to see John planting weeds out front. Disdainfully they asked, "Why are you planting weeds? We have plenty of them everywhere."

"Just wait. We'll talk about the weeds later," their teacher promised the pupils. At the appropriate time, John snipped off the weeds flush with the earth. "These weeds represent sins you used to commit. This weed is stealing. We'll cut it off, because you don't steal anymore. This one is lying. We'll cut it off, since you don't lie anymore. This one is war, this one is murder, this one is rape. Now they are all cut off, all gone. Will these plants come up again?" He asked the students.

"Of course they will."

"But they're gone. Why do you say they will come up again?" "Because the roots are still there."

"Do these sins still have roots in your hearts? Could these sins come into your lives again?" John asked.

"Yes, they could," the Dani agreed.

"What is the main root of sin in your hearts?" John asked. They couldn't answer right away. "Think about it and talk it over while I go to the medical hut for half an hour."

When John returned, one man spoke for the group. "We know that our main root of sin is our pride. We Dam men are very proud. We do all sorts of things to show off for the women. At feasts, we wear our long ceremonial gourds and swing our hair back and forth to impress the women. We spend much time greasing our long hair to draw attention to ourselves:' The men talked about pride for some time. Then they prayed together, committing their sin to the Lord.

Later that same day, Wuninip and Kininip, another leader, came to John. "Will you please cut our long hair?"

"I can't do that. Why do you want to cut your hair?"

"Tolibaga, remember this morning we identified our pride as our worst root of sin. We feel that our long hair is a symbol of our pride. With it we attract attention to ourselves rather than to God. We must cut our long hair."

"Wait a minute-that's a pretty drastic thing to do in your culture. You'd better pray about it."

"Tolibaga, we have prayed, and we know we must do this:"

"Then you must do it yourselves."

"We have no scissors. May we borrow yours?"

Taking the scissors, the men disappeared into the chicken yard, behind the seven-foot fence. Forty-five minutes later they reappeared, looking very self-conscious. Helen was startled. "What happened to Wuninip and Kininip?" John quickly explained. "Wait until the village people see them!"

Wuninip and Kininip set out for the village. Along the way, startled Danis asked the same question. "What happened to your hair?" Wideeyed children scurried ahead to the village to tell their elders.

What will our friends say? Kininip and Wuninip wondered as they walked. Anxiety coursed through Kininip. Wuninip can return to his house near Tolibaga, but I have to live in the village! But Kininip didn't regret his action. Each man prayed for courage to tell why he had cut his hair. Both men prayed that the God who had showed them their pride would speak to others, too.

When the men arrived at the village, the people were watching for them. They crowded around to hear what the two had to say. "Tolibaga gave us a lesson about the roots of sin in our hearts. He asked us, `What is the main root of your sin?' We didn't answer right away. He left for a while, and we talked it over. Then we decided that pride is our main sin. Our long hair is what we are most proud of, so we cut it off. God has made us in His likeness that we might show forth His character-not draw attention to ourselves."

Some shook their heads in dismay. Others faintly understood. Some began to examine their own hearts.

In huts throughout the Kanggime area, Danis talked about the believers who had cut their long hair. Some were convicted about their lives and motives. Slowly a change came over the Toll Valley. Whereas before only a few had followed the Lord, now many were turning to God, realizing what He had done for them in sending His Son.

Dekker, John (with Lois Neely). Torches of Joy. Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 1985, 1999 p. 91-93.

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