At first glance, cross-cultural mission work may seem daunting and impractical.
The tower of Bable is a fine example of how different cultures, or at minimum, having language barriers, can create a less than ideal working environment.
Despite the perceived difficulties of attaining cultural fusion, our loving God desires to have people of every culture saved for eternity, and so we should be driven to connect to those outside our own culture. Here are some concepts that may help successfully build connections with an alternate culture.
First, we must make sure we have the same love for everyone, whatever a person’s culture. We need a genuine love for people to take part in honest mission work. Jesus never held back his love or offer of salvation to anyone, defying the typical cultural exclusivity of the day. We must realise Jesus loves every culture, and yearns for their eternal fellowship, as much as he does ours.
Identify the various cultures which you may exclude from your typical mission efforts. Sometimes we don’t stop to think about the wide variety of differing cultures around us that are not reached by traditional mission efforts. It’s natural to be drawn to those of our own culture. Make the effort to look out.
A culture’s uniqueness can often stand out. From a differing language they speak to the way they dress. Or the unique style of music they listen to or the food they cook. However, different cultures will often have a unique way of thinking, feeling and, learning too. With different life experiences and interests, telling a parable, for example, will possibly need a somewhat different analogy to have the desired impact.
To successfully connect to a culture that differs to your own you’ll need to understand the culture you’re trying to connect with. Take some time to learn about a culture. The best way to do this may be by talking with people of the culture, asking questions or genuinely befriending people. In doing so you can learn how your cultures differ, how they are similar and how best to relate meaningfully.
There may well be resources available that have been developed specifically for the culture you’re trying to reach. Search the internet or contact an administration office in the homeland of a culture and ask what resources are available and import them for your own mission work.
1. What cultures do you have the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus with? Which ones do you feel are most difficult to reach, and why?
2. If someone of a very different culture to your own had the gospel of Jesus and you had no such understanding yet, what do you imagine they would have to do to communicate the gospel of Jesus with you coherently?