Legend of the Wapa by Ernie Bowman is the fourth fictional title released by the Christian publisher, Cruciform Press. They have an interesting platform for works of Christian fiction and non-fiction less than one hundred pages in length! I would highly recommend checking out Cruciform Fiction if you’re in the market for a solid Christian novella.
In Legend of the Wapa, the Allens are a missionary couple living deep in the jungle with the Kilo tribe. Ian and Rachael have dedicated their lives to learning the language of this small people group in order to translate the word of God. Life is ripe with the humor of a huge cultural and linguistic clash between a tribal people and a modern American family. When strange droppings are found in the jungle, the Kilo are convinced they belong to a mythical creature called the Wapa. But the unsuccessful hunt for the animal leaves the life of one of the Kilo resting on Ian and his meager medical supplies.
I’ve never read missionary fiction before, but I will definitely do it again. The life of a Bible translator is nothing to scoff at as the Allens can attest to. Their days are filled with adventure, humor, embarrassment as they learn the culture, and education coming from both sides. I found myself frequently laughing aloud at the absurdity of many of the situations they found themselves in as modern Americans in a rural, tribal setting. I don’t know anything about the author, Ernie Bowman, but he left the impression that he’d either been in this situation himself or he intimately knew of someone who had. The detail and bits of information only a tribal missionary would know were frequent and amazing to read.
Legend of the Wapa was hilarious, adventurous, and made me want to go tromping off into the jungle to make some Kilo friends of my own. I especially loved the emphasis the author placed on the faults of the missionaries—that they were not superhuman saints for doing what they did. They are like us. Sinners like us who happen to live in the middle of the jungle.
Content warning: Mild action and gore.