I was extremely but quite pleasantly surprised during a recent ministry trip to Reunion Island to discover how similar this Creole culture was to my own in south Louisiana. Reunion is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa and next to Madagascar. It is an overseas department of the nation of France and thus part of Europe politically speaking. But its population is a melting pot of many different races: Indian, African, French, Malagasy, Chinese, and English. The week I spent there as a representative of SFC â€“ Europe to talk about future collaboration in student ministry was very rewarding on both a personal and ministerial level. I found a thriving group of students and young people reaching out to their campuses bringing a message of faith and hope to their peers. Just because one lives on an island paradise doesnâ€™t mean lasting peace has been found.
As an added serendipity, as mentioned above, I found one of the warmest and welcoming cultures Iâ€™ve ever encountered among the Creoles of Reunion. Not only is rice one of their main staples as in south Louisiana, but they grow sugar cane too. Their cooking styles are very much like in Cajun country and varied spices enhance their culinary dishes. But the most striking thing of all was finding some of the same Creole expressions and vocabulary. â€œComment il est?”, “Câ€™est bonne heure.â€ Indeed, linguistic vestiges of the slavery era in former French colonies and territories hang on through local Creole customs. And my lifeâ€™s calling as well as our personal heritage permitted me this past week to play a role in seeing souls born into the kingdom of God on Reunion Island. What a tremendous privilege Iâ€™ve had! -Blair