God Is Already There...

This summer the Alaska Mission for Christ will be sending servant teams into SW Alaska.  This area is home to the Yup'ik people.  SW Alaska has been their home for more than 4,000 years.  They immigrated from eastern Siberia.  In the past Yup'ik people have been called eskimos.  Now they prefer to be called by thier indigenous name which means "real people".  Christianity reached the Yup'ik communities a little over one-hundred years ago.  Their traditional world view believes that nothing dies forever.  Life is reborn back into the universe.  Shamans are special persons who mediate between the spiritual realm and the realm of nature and human beings.  Shamans are believed to be capable of healing, insuring a successful hunt, and easing life in general.

As servant team members enter villages this summer they will see the way modern Yup'ik people live and act.  This will help them to begin to understand the people with whom they are sharing their faith.  However, one way of going deeper into understanding a culture is to know the values they aspire to.  The Yup'ik people have listed their cultural values in order to better teach their children what is important to them. The list of Yup'ik cultural values change slightly depending upong the source, but they are the same in general. I would like to share them with you.

  1. Have respect for our land and its resources.
  2. Be helpful to one another.
  3. Share possessions and knowledge with honor.
  4. Respect other people's property.
  5. Respect spirituality.
  6. Teach and learn outdoor survival and hunting skills.
  7. Provide for and take good care of your familiy.
  8. Through love, respect your children.
  9. Respect your elder's wisdom and knowledge.
  10. Always trying, never without.
  11. The Yup'ik way of life is to be taught with pride.

It is not hard to appreciate this list of Yup'ik cultural values.  Knowing them helps us to respect and love the people with whom we seek Christian fellowship.  We do not bring God into a place, as much as we find him already there at work.