New Internationalist

What If Jesus Came Back? A Short Story From Melanesia

Issue 296

What if Jesus came back?

A very short story from Melanesia

In the village, the discussion sooner or later always comes back to Jesus ­ there are more foreign missionaries for each Melanesian than in any other place on the planet.

Maera addresses her community literacy group in her own language. She puts a question to everyone: 'If Jesus came back today, would he be a rich man? A politician?'

'No. He'd come back the same way that he came the last time, as a poor man.'

'OK, let's suppose that Jesus came back today,' says Maera. 'He's a poor man. He has no land, no house, no food, no work. Who would help him? Where would he find the true Christians?'

A couple of newly converted Pentecostals speak up: 'In America. That's where our missionaries come from. That's where he'd find true Christians.'

Maera moves to the blackboard. She lists some figures as she talks. 'In the US, 6 million people have no house to sleep in, 13 million people don't have enough food to eat, at least 30 million are unemployed, and over 100 million do not have enough land to plant subsistence gardens. If Jesus came back to America, who would give him food, housing, work or land?'

People start to make comments about how people from America, Europe and Australia find it hard to fit in with traditional Melanesian ways of sharing.

'We always share our food with the missionaries, but they usually don't share with us,' says one.

'Even when they do share, they give us these ridiculously small portions, like those little dry sandwiches cut into quarters. And cups of cordial,' says another.

Peals of laughter.

'Why can't they share food like we do?' Maera asks.

A woman speaks up: 'They're always worried about money.'

Everyone nods, but Maera persists. 'Why are we so little worried about money that we can share our food?'

'Because our food comes from our gardens, but theirs comes from the store,' says one.

'You pay so much money, but you get so little. It's soon finished and then you have to buy some more,' says another.

'Our gardens give us so much food that we can't finish it all. We need people to come help us eat,' says a third.

Everyone laughs again.

'So where are the real Christians?' asks Maera.

'Here!'

'If Jesus came to our village and asked for food, we'd give it to him.'

'Yes.'

'No problem.'

Nicholas Faraclas

Contents

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