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Two groups of feuding people, transformed through Christ, find that they can love one another.

My Friend, the Enemy

by Perry Priest, Bolivia
From “In Other Words,” November 1976

“Feed the enemy people?” Chiro couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

The Sirionó and Ayore people of Bolivia have been death-dealing enemies for generations. The Sirionó word for Ayore is “enemy,” and they even felt the Ayore had supernatural powers.

After Perry Priest’s Sirionó translation helper, Chiro and his family arrived at Tumi Chucua for the annual leadership training course, Perry learned that three Ayore men were also coming. Since they couldn’t bring their wives, the director asked Perry if Chiro and his wife, Nanci, would feed the men in their home during the next three months.

One day Perry casually told Chiro about the Ayores who were also enrolled.

“Are they going to study in the same course we will be in?” Chiro, a new Christian, asked in alarm.

“Yes,” Perry said, “but they know Jesus now, just like you, and they will be studying here at Tumi Chucua. In fact, they are not bringing their wives and need somebody to cook their meals. I’ve been asked if you and Nanci would feed them in your home.”

Feed the enemy people? How could Chiro ask his wife to do this? He squirmed an excuse to Perry. “I doubt that she’ll be willing to feed them.” So Perry told him to talk to Nanci, pray about it and let him know their decision.

The following day when Chiro didn’t mention the subject, Perry asked him if he’d talked to his wife. “No,” came the slow reply. “I haven’t talked to her about it.” Then he hit on a compromise plan. “If you won’t tell her that they are enemy people, I think maybe she would be willing to cook for them.”

“No, Chiro,” Perry replied. “I don’t think that’s the way you should do it. You and Nanci should talk it over and decide if you really want to do this as a service to the Lord.”

During the next few days Chiro battled it out in his heart. Because he was a new creature in Christ he really wanted to help the Ayore men; but the generations of hatred, animosities and warfare between the two peoples struggled with his new nature. He wondered, “What will the people in my village think if they learn I’ve been associating with the enemy people--if they learn I’ve been feeding them in my house?” Finally, however, he surrendered to the Lord, saying, “Yes, we will be glad to feed the enemy people.”

When the Ayores arrived, Chiro and Nanci graciously accepted them into their home. A few days later Chiro exclaimed to Perry, “You know, those Ayores are the most wonderful Christians! They stay up until midnight reading the Bible, singing and praying. I’ve never seen anything like it!”

And about the same time the worker with the Ayores reported that they had said the same thing about Chiro. In His own wonderful way God had removed any faults the former enemies might have seen in each other, and they had found only the good.

When Chiro and Nanci returned to their jungle home they told the other Sirionó that the enemy people really weren’t supernatural, as they had always believed. The old myths about the Ayore being evil spirits just weren’t true.

Now, of the twelve different language groups who participate in the course, the Ayore are probably the favorites of the Sirionó. When they are apart they include in their letters, “Send my greetings to the enemy people.”

History can’t reveal where the hatreds and fears came from, but one thing is sure--the power of Christ in Sirionó and Ayore lives has changed them. Now they’re no longer enemies, but brothers in Christ.

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Copyright © 2002 • Lorna Priest • Page last updated 26 October 2002