Christian Mission in Greenland In Inuit People, From Failure to Success

Warta Indonesia En.Ver – Greenland, a cold-climate territory at the northern tip of North America, has been home to the Inuit people for thousands of years. In the 15th century, Christian missionaries from Europe began arriving in Greenland with the mission to spread their teachings.

The initial mission was far from easy. European missionaries faced various challenges, including cultural and linguistic differences. They often employed approaches that were insensitive to the local culture.

One example is the story of an Inuit people tribal chief named Qasapi. Qasapi was a highly respected shaman among his people. One day, a Christian priest approached Qasapi to persuade him to embrace the Christian faith.

The priest told Qasapi that if he did not believe in God and Jesus, he would go to hell when he died. Qasapi then asked the priest what hell was like, and the priest said, “It is a place where people burn forever.”

Qasapi inquired further, this time about heaven, and the priest replied, “It is a place where people live in peace and happiness forever.” After a moment of thought, Qasapi said that he would rather go to hell than heaven because he preferred the fire over the promised peace.

This story illustrates that the approach used by European missionaries initially was ineffective. They did not understand the local culture and beliefs, making it challenging to convey Christian teachings in a way acceptable to the indigenous people of Greenland.

Centuries later, missionaries from Denmark arrived, but this time, they adopted a more effective approach than their predecessors. Danish missionaries sought to understand the local language and the culture of the indigenous people of Greenland. They also adjusted their teachings to align with the local culture.

One such missionary was Hans Egede. Egede arrived in Greenland in 1721 with a mission to spread the Christian religion. Egede learned the Inuit people language and endeavored to understand their culture. He also adapted Christian teachings to fit the local culture.

Egede successfully translated the Bible into the Inuit language and wrote books about the Christian religion tailored to Inuit culture. He also established churches and schools in Greenland.

The efforts of Egede and other Danish missionaries bore fruit. Over time, an increasing number of indigenous people in Greenland converted to Christianity. By the 20th century, the majority of Greenland’s population had become Christian.

However, some indigenous people in Greenland still hold onto their traditional beliefs. They believe in nature gods and ancestral spirits.

Today, Christianity has become the dominant religion in Greenland. Nevertheless, the traditional Inuit people religion still plays a significant role in Greenlandic society.

The Christian mission in Greenland has undergone a long and winding journey. From initial failures, the mission eventually succeeded, thanks to the missionaries’ efforts to understand the local culture and beliefs.