Pass The Kumara

Mar 7, 2016 | Interculturality, Mission, Mobilisation, Relationships, Strategy

Tena tātou katoa e te iwi mīhana… (Greetings to all in the tribe of missions)

March is harvest time for kumara (sweet potato) and the starchy Kiwi favourite has been at the forefront of my missions thinking lately. I believe a legitimate view of how the gospel spreads around the world is that it rides on the coat-tails of commerce. It is not often seen in the New Testament through this lens but it is there. It is certainly there in modern missions history, and it is also evident in Pasifika missions history. Commerce creates pathways for communication.

Mission rides on the coat-tails of commerce Click To Tweet

Commerce creates pathways for communication.

Consider now the kumara.

It too has travelled via the means of commerce. Early Pacific varieties have proven to originate from Peru, probably introduced to the Pacific by bold Pacific Island adventurers crossing 5,000km of ocean to South America in the 8th Century. Varieties of kumara have now spread worldwide.

Kumara are a relatively hardy crop and a rich source of nutrition, not to mention flavoursome and sweet on the palate. Comparing the kumara and the gospel yields a great deal of parable potential. “The Kingdom of God is like…” the kumara.

Kumara were traditionally stored for the Aotearoa (New Zealand) winter in rua kumara (kumara pits – similar to the small one pictured above). Kumara feature in the main interpretation of the “ka mate” haka or war-dance made famous by the All Blacks rugby team. The backstory has the fearsome Māori warrior chief Te Rauparaha hiding in a large rua kumara from a warband pursuing him. It’s understandable. It would be isolated, safe, warm, and a potential source of nutrition… for a while.

Similarly, it would be tempting for us all to remain in our metaphorical kumara pits (churches, organisations, families), but manaakitanga (the Māori concept of generous hospitality and a general commitment/obligation to bless ‘others’) requires that we exit our pits and share our kumara with the communities around us – or, better still, beyond us.

“The Kingdom of God is like…” the kumara, it demands that we climb out of our pits and pass the kumara to those who have not yet been nourished by it.

Followers of Jesus, consider the nourishment you have been provided by the Gospel. Are you hoarding it or sharing it generously? Now consider what happened to the people of God who hoarded mana, and #stayonmission. 👊🏼

Ma te wa (until next time),

Jay