[The challenge was to write a story from the perspective of a person who only had a piece of the Bible. Here is the piece, and here is Derek’s story.]


Please accept this humble message.  My name is Kered Oktiz of the tribe Baldini in northern Ethiopia. I lived many years in my village and have only been in the US Florida for 3 months – though have been taught English, excuse me if it is not very good.

Living here with a family in Fishhawk, I have walked past your church every day and there has been something about it that makes me want to be near, makes me want to know something about it. See, I don’t know any religion other than the tribal fathers in my village but I have always suspected there is something more. Why have our elders always held feasts and bonfires to a piece of wood? I have felt that there is something way bigger than we can know that made all of this.  So I am curious each day when I walk past your church, but am always afraid to go in or talk to anyone.

Except yesterday when I was walking by, there was a torn piece of paper on the ground.  It appeared to be very official but also like a personal instruction, and it had words like God and faith on it, and that name Jesus that I have heard is a kind of American religion.  I was very excited, that maybe I can feed my curiosity and maybe find this bigger thing I seek.  However, it was also very confusing and odd and a little scary but that might just be because parts are missing.  So I am hoping you can help me.  In my village, the smartest people are the tallest so you must be a freaking genius about this God.

I will put the pictures of this paper in the message but here are a few things I think I learned from the paper that maybe you can help me understand…

I saw the big number 6 and started there, but after reading the other side, I’m not so sure which side to start with, though both sides talk about the Son of God and so I tried to piece some things together.  Please forgive me if I ask anything in error – I mean no offense, I truly just want to try to understand.

Two things spoken of here about God that seem very good to know is that God has a son who is very important and that the word of God is very powerful.

It seems that this Jesus is God’s son and that he is a high priest.  (We have a high priest in our village and he is in charge of our worship, everyone follows him.)  I don’t know exactly what this means but it says he “passed through the heavens” but that he had “days of his flesh”.  I watched a movie the other day, a cartoon called “Hercules” – he, too, was in heaven and lived on earth so maybe they are the same?  Because Hercules also “learned obedience through what he suffered.”  This Jesus also prayed even with tears and was heard – Hercules also talked to his father for help. But Hercules wasn’t called a priest and didn’t talk about faith – he was all about strength and fighting.  He protected the people, but it was physical.  This Jesus sounds like he talks to his father, God, to help the people and God listens to him.  And God listens to him because unlike all the people, Jesus didn’t have weaknesses (though I’m not sure what “without sin” means).  So Jesus understands the people’s weaknesses, but he asks God not to punish them for their weaknesses but to “help them in time of need.”  That sounds pretty good to me – a powerful father and son who help people….like Odin and Thor…

The troubling thing about this Jesus that I didn’t understand was it talking about people who were “crucifying”(?) him with contempt.  I don’t know what “crucifying” is, but the whole thing sounds bad – why would they do that to someone who helps them to such power? If someone can help you in all your weaknesses, why would you treat him with contempt? And I am sure this God would NOT be happy with people who treat his son poorly – why would you make such a powerful being unhappy?

Last about this Jesus: it also said something about “gifts and sacrifices”…? We have sacrifices in our village – we kill animals for the piece of wood.  Do you kill animals here, too?  If so, in the house next to the one I am staying in, there is a dog who barks very loudly at night – perhaps you could sacrifice it next.

Now, about the “word of God”.  In my village, all power is to the strongest man – for example, in my village, while you would be very smart because you are tall, you would have no power because you are a skinny little man.  From the paper, though, It sounds like this God is so powerful that even the things he says can cut people’s joints apart – ouch, that is an amazing power. But also, it sounds like it is more cutting to the space inside of us where our spirit is so maybe that cutting thing is just saying that it is powerful to our whole being. (This is good – I don’t want my marrow cut out.)  It sounds like this word can powerfully change a man, calling out his weaknesses and forcing him to consider them to change to please this God “to whom we must give account.” To me, that sounds good – the same God who will be the judge of your actions is also the one who helps you fix your actions before he accounts.  When you combine that with his son who will talk to him for you, it seems like a pretty good way to get fixed the right way.  And it seems that God will also look with favor upon the good works you do, the “love you have shown”, the “serving of saints”, being earnest and being “imitators” of those who have faith and patience.  So doing good things for others will make God happy.

It seems the other thing God’s word does is teach – both basic and simple things (milk) and deeper things for those with “powers of discernment”. (by the way, can God give us powers, like the Superman has?).  The paper says that we should understand the basic milk quickly and move on to “maturity”, the solid food…and then there is a bunch of confusing things in the words right after the big 6.  I’m confused about all the good works he likes and then this thing about “dead works”.  I don’t know what the laying on of hands and the resurrection of the dead and such are – it’s all a little scary and hard to grasp.  And then there are all these good things – tasting the heavenly gift and sharing in the “Holy Spirit)(?) and tasting the goodness of God’s word – but then it seems they are cast aside by those who have contempt for the Jesus.  Not sure about this stuff, Tirona.

I tried to understand the littler letters at the bottom of the pages, but only got more confused. They seem to be a different writer.

So I am very nervous to have wrote this, but am also very excited.  I feel like I have always known there is something, this God, in the world, and if you will please help a stranger, I would like to know more.  I hope it is OK that I got this email address for you – you can please to answer me back if you can.

Thank you very much…  Kered

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