Don Richardson is one of the most read authors on Christian missions alive today. Peace Child, a book about his missions work with the Sawi people in Irian Jaya, sold about half a million copies in 27 languages, was a Reader's Digest book of the month selection, and became a film that's available in 26 different languages. He is also the author of Eternity in Their Hearts. All of Richardson's books focus on what he calls his "redemptive analogy" thesis: the idea that each culture has some story, ritual, or tradition that can be used to illustrate and apply the Christian gospel message.

But in his latest book, Secrets of the Koran (excerpt), Richardson argues that Islam is very unlike the Sawi culture. One can't bring Muslims to Christianity by using Muslim concepts, he argues.

If I understand your redemptive analogy thesis, your general approach to other religions is to find common touch points and build bridges to them, as opposed to seeing walls everywhere.

Right. When [my wife] Caroline and I lived among the Sawi and learned their language, we found that they honored treachery as a virtue. This came to light when I told them the story of Judas betraying Jesus to death after three years of friendship. They acclaimed Judas as the hero of the story. It seemed as if it would not be easy for such a people to understand God's redemption in Jesus.

But lo and behold, their way of making peace required a father in one of two warring villages to make an incredible sacrifice. He had to be willing to give one of his own children as a peace child to his enemies.

Caroline and I saw this happen, and we saw the peace that resulted from a man's wonderful sacrifice of his own son. That enabled me to proclaim Jesus as the greatest peace child ...

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The Dick Staub Interview
Dick Staub was host of a eponymous daily radio show on Seattle's KGNW and is the author of Too Christian, Too Pagan and The Culturally Savvy Christian. He currently runs The Kindlings, an effort to rekindle the creative, intellectual, and spiritual legacy of Christians in culture. His interviews appeared weekly on our site from 2002 to 2004.
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