In my (Stacey’s) experience, there is nothing more depressing than Kwakum funerals. Why are they depressing? Many reasons. First of all, they occur frequently, often due to preventable causes. Secondly, they are long; around six days of wailing and sleeping in the dirt. Third, they are riddled with traditions that do not honor God. For instance, attendees often try to divine the person responsible for the death of the individual (because they believe that most if not all deaths are caused by witchcraft) and this leads to false accusations, screaming, and violence. There are also traditions forced upon the bereaved so that they will not experience the same fate that occurred to the deceased (such as certain types of cleansing rituals). Fourth, harmful substances are used by young and old which leads, once again, to fights and violence. Finally, I have looked at corpse upon corpse knowing that they never heard the Gospel and that they are suffering in Hell…and I just can’t take it anymore.
Now, why have these people not heard the Gospel? Answer: Because the verses about Jesus simply haven’t been translated into Kwakum yet. Not only that, but there are key concepts that are not present in the Kwakum culture that must be taught. For instance, there not only is no word for grace or even gift but people literally do not understand the concept of receiving something with no strings attached. A gift given from a heart of love is totally foreign.
So, in response to seeing my neighbors die, I started writing a book called The Book of Good News in May and it has been published this week. I wrote the book in French (since I used many verses from the French Bible) and then our group of translators went to work to translate it. The result is that we now have it printed in Kwakum and plan to have it printed in French next month.
Click HERE to see an overview of what is contained in the Kwakum Book of Good News