Incarnation is a key principle of Christian mission. God himself came down to earth in human form to communicate his message of good news in the person of Jesus Christ. He did not let such a message be transmitted through the voice of a prophet. He did not even speak directly from the clouds with this message. He came down as one of us, lived among us, shared our humanity, and spoke to us in human words.
Since Jesus, Christianity has not stopped practicing this principle of incarnation. Paul became “all things to all people” (1 Cor 9:22) to aid the transmission of this good news among his audience. And missionaries throughout the centuries have lived among other cultures, learning their language and values so that they can accurately communicate the good news.
However, we have not always done a good job in adapting to the culture and language of our audience in our attempts to communicate the gospel. Too often, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been mingled or confused with the gospel of Empire. The result has been that Christianity has not been fully expressed in all of these cultures.
When the first missionaries arrived on New Zealand’s shores they began translating the Scriptures into Māori. However, over time the impetus to allow Christ and the church to be fully incarnated in Māori culture has waned. Such that, over the past century, for the church as with much of New Zealand society, Māori culture and language has been largely ignored.
For Tandem Ministries, this means that we have largely been content to do our ministry in English without translating our tools into Māori. As an organization that is primarily about communicating the good news of Jesus, our primary tool is the Knowing God Personally gospel presentation, and over our more than forty years in New Zealand, it has never been translated into Māori.
We recognised that this needed to change, so this year we sought to translate Knowing God Personally into Māori. We want to adapt our message to speak to the tangata whenua of New Zealand in their own language because every language and culture deserves this honour.
We hope to be able to do much more in the future, but this year we are glad to have been able to celebrate the addition of Māori as a language option to the GodTools app.
How to use GodTools in Māori:
We hope that this can be one small step to help kia kaha te reo Māori – to make the Māori language strong.
If you haven’t got the GodTools app on your phone, download it. You can now add Māori as a language for the Knowing God Personally presentation. You can also view the presentation on the web. Who can you share te rongopai o Īhu (the good news of Jesus) with during Māori Language Week? We’d love to hear your stories of sharing the good news in Māori.
You can also check out The Jesus Film in Māori on the Jesus Film app