When the Bible translators arrived in Mindanao, Philippines to work with the T’Boli people, they learned of a tragic tradition. The T’Boli believed in an afterlife, and that when a person died, they would have to cross a bridge to make it into heaven. The problem was when they would cross the bridge, an evil demon would try to grab them and pull them into hell. The only way to defend themselves from the demon was with light, and they believed light came from scars. So in order to prepare for crossing this imaginary bridge, mothers would dip cotton balls in oil, light them on fire, and place them on their babies, giving their babies terrible burns and leaving their bodies covered with scars.
When the translators made it to John 8:12, which says “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”, the lives of the T’Boli changed forever. They learned that Jesus is our light and He will defend us from the evil one. The T’Boli now have a hope and joy they never had before, and the first generation of children are living free from scars. The T’Boli no longer fear the journey across the bridge because they know they are protected by God.
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