Noses, stomachs and fear


POSTED ON 2011-05-04
  by Ian Fallis





“You crossed my nose!” the Nagi man shouted at his brother, angrily drawing his finger across his nose.

His outburst set off a half-dozen simultaneous heated conversations that threw the village meeting into chaos. And while the statement itself did not make sense to missionary Joanna Jansma, his anger did. It stemmed from the same source as the village meeting: His brother was having an affair with the man’s wife.

Apparently the expression “you crossed my nose” is similar to the American figure of speech, “right under my nose,” Joanna reasoned.

In a short time, some order was re-established and the meeting continued. Villagers talked for three hours, with marriage advice and warnings about adultery amid a recounting of the events and a decision on a penalty.

With the penalty paid, the issue was settled, and everyone shook hands and said they were satisfied – in Nagi idiom, their “stomachs were good.”

Yet there was still an undercurrent of fear, and quiet discussions of whether everything had been done right. The Nagis live in constant fear of sorcery. So if something wasn’t done the right way, they fear, someone could still get sick from sorcery.

Pray for Joanna and her teammates as they delve into the many layers of the Nagi culture and language in order to be able to make a clear presentation of God’s Word.


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