A Snapshot of a pineapple story
Colorado Christian University
Dr. Jacob Kitonsa
February 13, 2014
A Snapshot of a pineapple story
One of the great missionary accounts for me was Otto Koning’s pineapple story. God used his pineapple garden in Dutch New Guinea to conquer a huge weakness of his. The account happened over a period of seven years and the lesson to learn from this story is about yielding your personal rights. When you learn to yield your personal rights, instead of getting bitter, you get God’s peace. A brief description of the author’s account takes place in the jungle. His desire was to influence the jungle natives positively and enjoy the fruit of his pineapple grove. In this jungle area, fresh fruits and vegetables were not plentiful. Otto arranged to have pineapple plants brought in and planted. He waited three years for those yummy pineapples to grow, but the natives stole them as they ripened! He tried to negotiate and compromise with the jungle people, but that never worked. He got so angry that he resorted to stronger measures to protect his property. His testimony as a missionary failed miserably and he only grew more and more frustrated and angry. He did pray and asked God for wisdom and it did come. He learned and chose to apply a scriptural principle about yielding his personal rights. As soon as he made the decision to do this his attitude dramatically changed. He was peaceful and the jungle people noticed! This story ended up to be a blessing for both the jungle people and Otto. It actually is a serious and funny story all in one. The author is transparent about his motives, good and bad, and reveals to us how God worked in his heart through this experience of seven years. Transformation takes time in God’s economy. Otto’s understanding of showing God’s love to the people of New Guinea was wrong. Besides the cultural differences, he also learned to understand misplaced value, selfishness, and surrendering your desires to God’s purposes. Our culture heavily influences us in our problem solving challenges; our self-talk and cultural ideas really drive our behaviors so much of the time and that can be good or bad. Otto was so involved with his version of good intentions that he completely missed the point of how to best minister to this different culture. God knew this and God was the ultimate teacher through it all. The first concept that I want to point out has to do with intercultural ethical perspective. “By accepting and appreciating both (similarities and differences), you are better able to assess the potential consequences of your communicative acts and to be more tolerant of those of others.” (Samovar, Porter, McDaniel, & Roy, 2013, p. 19) Otto learned that just because he paid for help planting his pineapple garden didn’t mean it was his own. In that culture, they see things a little differently. “My hands plant them, my mouth eats them.” (pineapple story, 1978, p. 13) These people couldn’t understand that their planting made those pineapples someone else’s. Otto had a missionary heart but he really did not know the culture. The second concept that I want to mention is that communication has a consequence (Samovar et al., 2013, p. 35). Otto is an American missionary ministering in New Guinea. He and his wife run a health clinic to serve the people. The language of care in a clinical context is pretty universal, but the culture at large is very different, especially the jungle culture. He wanted to bless the people his way with these pineapples, but the people did not understand this at all. They observed him and could not match his behavior with the God of the universe. His angry behavior was all he showed them. Once he yielded his rights to God and peace dominated his behavior, the people noticed and started asking him what happened. The third concept that is worthy of mention has to do with the deep structure...
References: Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., McDaniel, E. R., & Roy, C. S. (2013). Communication between cultures (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Monica Eckman.
The pineapple story. (1978). Illinois: Institute in Basic Life Principles, Inc.
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