Title: This Child Must Die
Author: Anne Ruck
Major Themes: Indonesia, Sumatra, Cleopas Lumbantobing, Missionaries, Biography
Synopsis: The spirits said to kill the baby when he was born; when he became a man, Cleopas overturned the spirit’s power.
I haven’t read very many books that are biographies of native missionaries—most of the missionary biographies I’ve read have been about the Westerners who went to other countries to work. This Child Must Die is different.
Set in Sumatra in the early 1800s, the story opens with a father consulting the local witchdoctor to learn the destiny of his newborn son; he hopes for a child who will bring him fame and fortune. Instead, he is told that the baby must die, because he will turn their world upside down! The father goes home very sadly, and after pondering his options he sends the wife whose son this is home to her family with her children.
A number of years later, a German missionary arrives in this wild country, where his predecessors were killed. Within a few years, a number of people in the area have become Christians! Among them are the father who was told to kill his son, and the son himself, though they live in different villages and have no contact with each other. Through God’s love, the family is reunited, and the son becomes an evangelist and a peace keeper among the tribes.
This Child Must Die is an incredible story of the difference Jesus can make among spirit-worshipping tribespeople. I appreciated the role played by the native missionary; he was much more effective among his people than the foreign missionaries could possibly be. He understood his people and their customs and needs, although he needed and appreciated the help and advice he received from his German mentor.
This book is out of print at the time of this writing, but you can still buy used copies.
WARNING: Being a book about people coming out of tribal religions, there are a few scenes mentioned, among the unconverted villages, which are not suitable for children.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults