…which end will you lift on?


“I want to marry this one.”

The tall Dinka man was pointing at me, while addressing my teammate Marsha. Since Marsha was a friend of Dinka John,* and is my elder, apparently she was qualified to broker my bride price. I suddenly became very interested in their conversation.

“I will give twenty cows for her,” offered Dinka John. The Dinka are known far and wide for their cattle, which are their prized possession. They accumulate cattle like Americans collect…well, everything. Cattle equals wealth.

Without batting an eye, Marsha countered, “She is worth far more than twenty cows; she is worth twenty thousand cows!”

Dinka John looked shocked and horrified. “But…she is only one person!”

Although I knew that the negotiation happening in front of me wasn’t entirely serious (although I’m sure John would have gladly taken me as wife number three), it brought up an interesting point: What am I worth, anyway?

Well, if I were appraised solely based on cattle, I now know my value lies somewhere between twenty and twenty thousand. But on a more abstract level, what is a person worth? Some would say that you can’t put a value on human life.

However, I know Someone who did put a value on my life, and on yours. The price paid by God for my life was the life of His son, Jesus. That is a bride price that even the richest Dinka couldn’t pay.

I listened with amusement as Marsha pitched my many stellar qualities to Dinka John, justifying my high price. Because I knew that my bride price had already been paid by Christ, and I could rest in that knowledge.

*(This is not Dinka John in the photo, although the man shown is Dinka, posing in front of his cattle.)


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  1. Robert Wood on said:

    Melinda what a wonderful surprise it was for me to find your blog. I have posted various blogs in the past, I stopped for two reasons, first I hated that I got so many bogus bot responses and second with my ADHD (diagnosed not imagined) I tend not to be great at remembering to go back and do the next one.

    I read and enjoyed your blog post about the bride price (and agree you are worth more than 20 head of cattle lol). I agree 100% with you analogy about Christ paying the bride price for us all.

    What saddens me is that several years ago I was doing research and found where the U.S. Government had actually put cost comparison figures together for human lives. Sadly they look at how much it would cost in U.S. dollars to clean up a given pollution vs. how many lives the pollution might take and then break down those lives by potential earnings and figure out what the highest long term economic gain would be. Cleaning up the pollution or letting x number of people die. Crazy.

    My father’s cousin Elaine Brown (http://www.FosteringHopeInternational.com) has moved to Ghana you can find her here as well http://facebook.com/elaine.brown1

    It blew my mind to see a woman in her 60’s leave her home and follow God’s voice to go help orphans in Africa. It also blows my mind that I fill the pulpit in a small church in rural Missouri. Guess the point is we never know what God has planned for us. And I am thankful he paid the true price for us and we do not need to worry about bartering with Dinka tribesmen or US Govt economists.

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