From Indian Tradition to Bible Truth
WOULD you like to accompany a traveling Christian overseer and his wife as they visit the San Blas Islands? This group of some 300 small isles with sparkling white beaches bathed by Caribbean waters is located just off the north coast of the Isthmus of Panama. Virtually covered with palm trees, these tropical islands are populated by the Kuna Indians—for the most part, a very friendly and hospitable people.
The Kunas have their own religious traditions. Moreover, representatives of many religions have visited them, offering various concepts and philosophies. So the Kuna Indians are prone to ask: “Who are the true Christians?” Jehovah’s Witnesses have provided the Bible-based answer, and some of the Kunas have responded favorably to Bible truth.
Response to Scriptural Truth
For instance, there is Ramón, who got acquainted with Bible truth when he was studying in school. One of his friends handed him a copy of “Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie,” published by the Watchtower Society. He read the book, liked it and wanted more information. So Ramón wrote to the Panama branch of the Watchtower Society, ordering other literature. A month passed and another request for publications was received from him. After the third order, the branch office arranged for a circuit overseer to visit him and his nephew, Rogelio. They were invited to attend a Witness circuit assembly in Panama City and were overjoyed at what they saw and heard. They even discovered that Julio, a city cousin, was a witness of Jehovah. All three are now baptized Christians serving as special pioneers, or full-time Kingdom proclaimers.—Matthew 24:14.
Off to the Islands
Now come with us as we carry the good news to the islands. In time, we leave our small outboard motorboat on the shore and direct our steps to the community building. There we will talk with the zahila (chief), for without his permission we cannot visit the Indians in their homes. After a few words in Kuna, Ramón tells us that we are ready to visit the villagers.
Perhaps the first thing that strikes the eye is the colorful attire of the Kuna women and girls. Attractive indeed are the multicolored head covering and dress. Very often, the blouse is a mola (shirt), a fascinating work of art in cloth done in inverted appliqué, portraying animals, birds, fish, butterflies, and so forth. Frequently, adornment includes gold nose rings and earrings, as well as necklaces of gold or silver. Legs and wrists are banded with pearls and beads.
The women work chiefly around the home, although they are adept at transporting water from the mainland by means of small dugout canoes. Usually, the men cultivate yucca and fruits on their fincas (small farms) on the mainland; but their principal occupation is fishing.
Witnessing to the Kunas
Let us move on to our preaching work. I decide to witness with Rogelio, who translates for me from Spanish into the Kuna dialect, and my wife accompanies Ramón or Julio. These hospitable Kunas invite us to sit down and promptly offer each of us a large cup of coffee, followed by a second cup with water to rinse our mouths. Afterward, we may speak with them. But can you imagine how we feel after having witnessed at 10 homes? We simply must turn down the offer of more coffee, thanking our hosts for their kindness.
Being curious, they want to know where we are from, if we are married and, if so, whether we have any children. After telling them that I am from Germany, they usually bring out their marriageable daughters. When they are told that I am married and that my wife and I have no children, they feel sorry for us. Why, they even offer us babies that we might have a family! Of course, we have to decline their generous offers.
Visiting these people really is a delight. We have offered them Bible literature in Spanish that discusses an earthly Paradise. After several minutes, many come together, looking for their copies.
On a return visit to one of the islands, a man approached and asked us to help him study his Bible, which we gladly did. On certain islands where the chief did not give us permission to visit the people, we could give a witness to some who privately asked for Bibles and related literature. Yes, many are showing sincere interest in the Scriptures.
Evening approaches and we have to go to the island of Nurtupo, where Ramón, Rogelio and Julio live. As the waves splash gently against our boat, Nora and I think of the many enriching experiences that we have had in God’s service. We appreciate all the more the need to help make “the many islands rejoice” as a result of Bible truth.—Psalm 97:1.