by A Missionary
West Asia-Kings are not loved by the Mountain people. Until the early 1970s, they lived under a monarchy. The kings were not kind. They taxed the people heavily and forced them into labour building roads, canals, and terraced fields. In one village, an elder reported to me that each year he had to pay the king seven or eight goats, bushels of wheat and potatoes, and large quantities of butter. Whatever the people produced, that was taken, so that they were only left with what they could hide in secret holes and caves in the mountains. When the monarchy was dissolved and the area was folded into the rest of the country, the people rejoiced. “All of that is finished now,” he told me. “Now things are easier, praise God!”
Recently, I translated a famous local folk tale about a different king. The gruesome story tells of an evil king who had acquired a taste for children. But he had one major weakness: he was terrified of fire. He tried to keep it a secret, but eventually the people found out. One cold November night, his subjects lit huge bonfires all around his palace. When the king saw the fires, he flew into the distant mountains and hid under a glacier, waiting to return when the flames died down. And so, each year on this night, people still light huge fires near their homes, ensuring the king stays away another year. They spend the night awake, banging on pots, loudly singing and dancing. The next day, to celebrate another year of freedom, the people slaughter animals, eating some, drying the rest, and sharing it with their neighbours to ensure no one goes hungry over the long winter. The story of the king is just a fun story; our acquaintances do not think there is an evil fairy king hiding under a glacier waiting for his chance to devour children, but they do enjoy the holiday.
It’s hard to hear about these bad kings, whether real or mythical, and not contrast them with our own King. We serve, but out of love, not fear, just as Jesus loved us. He will return, but to make everything right, not to reign with terror. In the Kingdom Jesus announced, instead of acting as tyrants, leaders should serve: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NLT). Rather than celebrating the dissolution of a monarchy, we are taught to pray for His Kingdom to come, His will to be done. Likewise, we eagerly await His swift return, not His continued absence.
Our desire is that God’s Kingdom will be established in the Mountain people and they will know the true, good King. Right now, it’s difficult to hear about Him, because few are telling them. They cannot read about Him, because they have no Scripture in their language. Will you pray with us for these people?