By Richard Gretsky
Farma Abraham had only one request before he died: at his funeral, he wanted a cow. To some, that may have seemed like an odd request, particularly since he wouldn’t even be there himself.
But there was a very specific reason this was his last request.
THE PATH OF KAAN
The Kaan people of Burkina Faso have long lived simple lives, even amidst the growing pressures from outside cultures to change their education systems, integrate various new jobs, and even assimilate into one of the majority languages.
Kaan men and women are predominantly farmers who educate their children traditionally, and primarily speak their native language: Kaansa.
But one of the most unique things the Kaan people have retained is their monarchal society. They are ruled by a king who serves for his entire life—and then a new member of the royal family is chosen to reign.
That king leads the people in animistic religious practices that have been a part of their culture for generations. These beliefs require the worship of idols, animal sacrifice, strict regimented ceremonies, and the watchful eye of the royal family. The people have been traditionally forced into that religious affiliation, regardless whether they believe in it or not.
Some people may very well be accepting of the religion, but according to Gloria Scott—a translator/literacy worker for Wycliffe who’s lived with the Kaan for over twenty years—many Burkinabe have felt the heavy burden that collective animism has had on them, squelching their individuality and eliciting a strong fear of punishment and disgrace if they don’t live up to a certain set of standards.
In the midst of those fears and burdens, some Kaan men and women have come to faith in Jesus Christ.
FEAR TO FAITH
“When the Kaan people come to know the Lord, they move from fear to freedom … they come out of animism, which is an awful, controlling, fearful sort of thing,” Scott said. “And when they come to know Jesus, it’s different.”
And that’s why Abraham, the oldest Kaan following Jesus, wants a cow when he dies—so that his friends and family can joyfully feast and celebrate the fact that death, while sad, is much more a celebration of the happiness of being with Jesus in Heaven.
[Note: Cows are expensive, but when a group of Sunday School children from Gloria’s home church (Grace Bible Chapel in Rising Sun, MD)) learned about Abraham’s desire to celebrate Jesus with a cow at his funeral, they jumped at the opportunity to help. Now, when Abraham does die, there will be a grand party—with feasting, dancing, and celebration.
Abraham has been vitally involved in Bible translation through ethnomusicology (work with various forms of musical expression that communicates God’s Word in powerful ways). He has even written songs and performed them.
If you’d like to get involved with Bible translation, as these children did, Wycliffe would love your help. Click here to learn more.