More from the Add-on Eskimo
“Those are really impressive stories,” the teacher said, “Tell me, for you Eskimos, how was the New Way of Jesus different from the old way?”
Ayit smiled, “Let me answer that with what happened some years later when an anthropologist came to Sivukuk and sat with a group of us older men.
“‘Why did you choose to become Christians?’ She asked. Several of us gave her answers.
“‘The New Way is easier, that is, more predictable. In the old way we could never know what the spirits would do, and often it was not good.’
“‘It eliminated the constant sacrifices—a life for a life—and ceremonies the spirits had required us to keep.’
“‘Through Jesus, our God, Apa, has come close to us. Now we know that he loves us and helps us. He is not distant as he was before we came to know Jesus.’
“‘The new way is much more satisfying because we will go to heaven when we die, a prospect that is open to all.’
“‘Now with Jesus, we can call upon him to use his power to heal us, to help us with hunting, to provide for us. We know he loves us, not like the capricious and cruel spirits.’
“‘Jesus healed my son.’
“‘Jesus gave us a safe delivery for our baby.’
“‘Jesus gave me shelter in the storm, saving my life.’
“‘The new way is much less complex. Jesus’ love is so simple. We don’t have to perform endless rituals. We only need to obey what we know to be true about him. It is a much better way!’
“The reasons went on, each showing that the speaker’s faith was not theoretical, but based both on the Word and seeing God reach into their lives. They were convinced that this was the right way and were committed to living it.”
Ayit leaned back and smiled at the young teacher. “Following Jesus is the best way,” he said. “Jesus is God. He is powerful. He is good. So, as I chose Him those many years ago, I continue to follow Him in His wisdom and grace. I continue to be what my family calls me: the Add-on Eskimo. I continually strive to add to my faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. I hope you also follow Him like that!”
The young teacher smiled weakly, knowing that, compared to Ayit’s, his faith was feeble, incomplete and inadequate for life.
As the days and weeks rolled by, the teacher became tired and discouraged. His work was never ending, there was little social outlet, he could go nowhere and buy only what was in the sparsely stocked village store. He was stuck on the island.
One evening in November as he at sitting at the table in his little house when suddenly he had a realization. Although he had come with the purpose and desire to help people, he was doing the opposite. His students had no desire to sit in class and learn about George Washington, verbs and new math.
They wanted to be out hunting seals, driving dog sleds and visiting the reindeer herd. He was, he thought, only teaching his students to hate school, hate him and hate white men. With this realization, the teacher fell into a depression that deepened each day.
Before coming to the island, he had spent quite a bit of time seeking a philosophy to live by, examining religion and different worldviews. The one answer he had settled on was that his purpose was to help others, but now this proved inadequate to provide the support he needed. If a philosophy was to be valid, it must work in every situation.
As he thought on it, he had three possible choices. He could end his emotional and mental pain by committing suicide, which he thought seriously about doing, but as he contemplated what that would do to his parents and his students, he decided to make that the last option.
Second, he could quit and leave the island and go home. But he innately realized that this was the most important juncture of his life and he needed to work it through.
Or third, he could find a new philosophy of life. He decided to start there. He went to Jim, the principal, and asked him what his philosophy of life was.
“Well, life is like building a stone wall. When you are gone, people will say, ‘Jim was here.’” The young teacher shook his head; that wasn’t much to live by. Besides the principle teacher wasn’t doing well himself.
No answer there. So he determined to look elsewhere, not realizing that the Lord had an answer coming for him in the near future.
Picture: the young teacher with a white fox pelt given to him by one of the Eskimos.