More from the Add-on Eskimo
God Reaches Down
It was the year of 1909 and Ayit and his family were again hunting on Sivukuk. While in the village he and his father spent much time with Kalowi, absorbing what he taught them like sea sponges.
One day the three of them visited the home of Mr. Campbell, the teacher. As they were talking, there came a pounding on the door. Mr. Campbell opened it to find Inoniki, a shaman from a different village.
“May I come in?” he asked.
“Yes, certainly,” replied the teacher and led him to the table where the others sat.
Okfagit leaned over to his son and whispered, “This man is a very powerful shaman, one to be leery of! Be careful what you say.”
After being served tea, the shaman looked intently at the teacher. “I want to tell you what has happened to me”, he said, “and to hear what you think about it.” He looked at the floor for a moment, gathering his thoughts before continuing.
“I went out onto the tundra to gain more power from the spirits. I was playing my drum to call them when a man in a long white robe appeared. I knew this was the Jesus you have told us about. I tried to capture his power, playing the proper rhythm on my drum to call his spirit power to me. But Jesus did not come to possess me as our spirits did; instead he disappeared.
“I continued playing my drum. Then he appeared to me again. This time he called me to himself. In his hand he held the book that you use, what do you call it, the Bible? He said to me, ‘I am not the devil, you cannot use me. I am Jesus, your God. Stop following the devil and follow me. I have mercy on you and have come to you. Now come to me and I will give you freedom. Then you are to go to Sivukuk and tell them of this experience.’ And with that he reached out and hit me on each side of my face with his Bible. Then he disappeared again.” Inoniki paused and looked at Mr. Campbell. “Do you think this really was Jesus? And what does it mean?”
Mr. Campbell was quiet for a minute, then said, “Let us pray before we talk about this.” He prayed, “Lord Jesus, thank you for this man’s experience. Help us to know how to understand it. Amen.
“Well, Inoniki, if we look at the words this person spoke to you, it would be what Jesus would say, ‘I am your God.’ Jesus is God, so he spoke correctly. Then, ‘Stop following the devil’ is correct, as seeking to get power from the spirits is getting power from the devil. And you know how often the spirits do destructive and evil things.”
Inoniki nodded. “I cannot deny that.”
“But why did Jesus hit you with the Bible? That I don’t understand,” exclaimed the teacher.
“I know why!” Ayit interjected. “That is the way a young man is welcomed into the community as an adult. After he has achieved a big success in hunting, his father takes him to the shore and strikes him hard on each cheek. So maybe Jesus was welcoming Inoniki into the heavenly family!”
The teacher turned his eyes to Inoniki. “So, what do you believe about Jesus now?” he asked.
“He is God, He came to me to save me. Now I don’t have to follow the devil!”
“Do you believe that Jesus died for you and rose from the dead?”
“Jesus is powerful, far above the spirits. He can do anything, so he could rise from the dead.”
“Is there anything to keep you from
surrendering to him now?”
“No!” replied Inoniki. Drawing on all he had heard from his conversations with the Christians in Sivukuk, he said, “I will pray now. Jesus God, I believe in you, I believe you are the great and good God and that you came to the world and died for me, rose from the dead for me and that you forgive my sins. I will now follow you. I will give up all my amulets, my charms, my drum and ceremonies. I believe you are powerful enough to protect me from the devil and the spirits. Help me to follow you well.”
“Amen!” said the teacher, with Ayit, Okfagit and Kolawi, all smiling broadly.
Inoniki held up his hand. “One other thing,” he said seriously. “I have come in obedience to Jesus to Sivukuk to tell others what Jesus did for me. I have told you. Now I must tell the others in the village, so I want to speak in the meeting this Sunday.”
“Most certainly,” said the teacher. “We will look forward to that!”
The news of Inoniki’s becoming a Christian spread throughout the village. And when the next day a large comet with a tail appeared in the Western sky, shining like the sun, the villagers took it as a sign that Apa, God was calling to them.
On Sunday the little schoolhouse was packed, especially with older men. After sharing about his experience with Jesus on the tundra and how he had decided to leave the old way and to follow Jesus, the older men asked Inoniki many questions.
Okfagit and Ayit also shared how they had come to follow Christ and how He had protected and provided for them. All left the meeting wondering what would happen next.
What did happen was that a number of leaders, boat captains and old men also decided to leave the old way of living under the evil oppression of the spirits and to follow Jesus, the great Creator God.
The next week the new believers brought their amulets, magic sticks and spirit drums to the church. After listening to a sermon about King Asa destroying idols, they all burned their spirit equipment in the school’s potbellied stove.
Inoniki then returned to his own village on the other side of the island. There he continued to share about his new relationship with Jesus, led several men to faith in Christ, started a church and preached on Sundays.
But the old spirits did not leave him alone. They tempted him to come back to the power he had. His spirit calling drum would magically appear to him at times as he went about his work.
One day he left to go hunting but did not return. He was later found dead on the trail, shot. It was assumed that he had been killed, but no one ever found who had done it. It is highly probable that he died for his new faith in Jesus, perhaps killed by another shaman who was angry that Inoniki had abandoned the old way.
God continued working in extraordinary ways to open the eyes of the Eskimos and bring them to Himself. Another Sivukuk resident, Simdet, was especially conflicted, not sure which way he should go.
He became unbalanced and did strange things as he was continually agitated. His family tried to help him, taking him to one shaman after the other, but no one could help him. The last shaman told him, “It is only Jesus who can help you!”
One night, in his dilemma, he went outside to the beach where he walked back and forth. Suddenly a brilliant rainbow appeared in the night sky. Simdet realized this was God’s sign to him and he came down firmly on the side of Jesus. His agitation and restlessness disappeared, and he was once more in his right mind.
After Simdet married, his wife had a very difficult time giving birth to their first child. So, he took his Bible to the beach and prayed long and hard, promising God to dedicate this child to him. His wife finally was able to deliver the baby and both mother and daughter lived. This greatly strengthened Simdet’s faith, and he became an encourager of others.
Picture:Shaman leading a ceremony from jstor