Book Review: Peace Child

Peace Child by Don RichardsonDon Richardson is a Canadian Christian missionary, teacher, author and speaker who worked among the tribes of Western New Guinea, Indonesia. He contends that hidden among tribal cultures are often practices or understandings, which point to Christ and can be used to illustrate the gospel.

From 1962 to 1977 Don, his wife Carol and their small children worked among the Sawi tribe of what was then Dutch New Guinea. The Sawi were cannibalistic headhunters and the Richardsons lived with them in isolation. They not only battled culture and language, but also malaria, dysentery, hepatitis, and the constant threat of violence.

Not to diminish the importance of all missions work, but this story is that classic, sexy tale of a family leaving their comfortable western lives to live in the jungle with a Stone Age style tribe. The Richardsons traveled out to the hinterlands and built a home amongst the natives and learned the local language and customs from scratch.

One of the most amazing facets of this story is watching Don Richardson struggle with communicating and getting the natives to comprehend the redemptive story of Jesus Christ. In a culture where deceit and treachery were respected the life story of Judas was originally more intriguing to the Sawi than that of Jesus. It was torturous and exhilarating to read the long and arduous path the Richardsons had to take to properly convey the grace of Christ. In the end we see that Christ had made His mercy and love known in this culture thousands of years earlier in practice known as Peace Child. Ultimately, the primary job of the Richardsons was to uncover and connect the dots between the tribal narrative and Christ.

Don created an alphabet for the Sawi language and taught the tribesmen to read in their own tongue. He translated the entire New Testament into the Sawi language and more than half of the Sawi became Christians.

Sections of this book are white-knuckle reading. There are background or character building sections that are a little slow, but the book hits a fevered pitch in the middle and rockets forward to the gripping conclusion. Don Richardson is an amazing teller of tales and this is a great narrative of God’s plan to save.