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"The Shell Money Of God"

Sometimes they will sit and stare at those shiny little shells and discuss them for hours...

“The Shell Money Of God”

“Jesus calls all his disciples away from a faith in which God is available to bless their business into a faith in which disciples are available to God to be part of His business. And God’s business is a multi-national company with branches everywhere!”

-Christopher Wright
Author of “Mission of God’s People” 

Sometimes they will sit and stare at those shiny little shells and discuss them for hours…

You will see it often in this interesting and unique culture. The men gather and then one at a time each one takes a turn. One of the men will carefully and ever so delicately remove a small colorful pouch from his string bag. The pouch lavishly decorated with stands of color taken from the orchid flower and made from tree bark string is carefully opened. A moth cacoon is removed from within the small colorful hand weaved pouch. Holding the cacoon in one hand the man making the presentation will gently squeeze the cacoon in between his index finger and thumb until the bright and well polished piece of shell money is once again born from the cacoon and lies in the palm of his hand. The people of this tribe view the shell as a living entity. It must be “born” over and over again and then fed and nourished. The owner of the shell will then gently sprinkle a small bit of “yeye” dust into the mouth of the shell after each presentation and then polish the shell with the cacoon in which it was contained.

The shape, the type, the quality, the history and many other features of each shell are discussed as the shells are one by one laid out in presentation in the middle of the group. Each shell has a history of transactions it has been involved in sometimes even back farther than the generations that can be counted and so each shell has a unique story to tell and in individual reputation of its own. The most renowned shells are known about, talked of and coveted for miles upon miles of jungle mountains and villages. In recent years however, there is a new type of shell money that has been introduced to this isolated tribe and which is also sought after among many of the remote villages in their territory. In the words of the tribes people it can be referred to as “The Shell Money of God”.

Without shell money, the entire economic system of the remote tribes of these Indonesian mountains would be thrown into confusion. The purchase of wives, pigs, weapons and even ones status is to this day heavily influenced and determined by the shell money that makes up this unique and interesting monetary system.

Likewise the “Shell Money of God” is a type of “currency” that is being talked about from village to village and now even into neighboring dialects in these jungle mountains. After all, It is the only currency that can purchase what no other type of earthly currency ever could. It is the currency that can pay the price for our very salvation.

1 Peter 1:18-19 says “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was paid for with the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” After hearing this and other passages that refer to the precious blood of Jesus Christ as having paid the ransom for our salvation this is exactly the way this tribes people see it. The precious blood of Jesus really is the very shell money of God!


The tribes people cherish their shell money and each shell has a unique story to tell, but even more than that they now cherish a different type of currency. They hold even more dearly and love talking about the very currency that was used to purchase their salvation. The shell money of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, gives them hope of eternal life in the presence of thier Creator when previously they had only fear of death. It is a currency worth for more than gold or silver, a currency that they now realize they would be hopeless without.

Isn’t it interesting to think that there are so many different cultures in the world, each oooing and aaawing over their own different types of currencies. Each place and people group in the world has a currency relevant to its own unique monetary system. But whether it’s paper money, plastic cards, or shells there is only one currency that has the power to set us free from “The empty life we inherited from our ancestors. And it is not paid with mere gold or silver, (or shells or paper or plastic cards) which lose their value. It is paid for with the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 

May God give us all an ever growing passion to know and experience Him deeper and to make Him known. Whether it’s on this side of the world or the other, no matter which country or culture we may find ourselves in, there is only one currency that can set people free from an empty life and give them a hope that cannot be taken away even by death itself and it is the “shell money of God”, the precious blood of Jesus.

Because He said “GO!”

– Scott, Jennie, Moses, Job, Lazarus & Boaz Phillips
Luke 9:60/17:10