Recently I have been reading a book about Cross Culture mission while being in Peru. It has struck me that mission is much more then just giving an explanation of the Gospel, but there is a a huge part of sharing the Gospel which requires us sharing our time and lives. This can be hard if we are from a culture that demands the use of our time to be for certain use and pressures, such as work, or meetings or other things. But I have been challenged by the Peruvian culture that time to be with each other is a good use of time and a great oppertunity to share the Gospel, not just only with words but with our use of time and relationships.
What I think tends to happen is that we and myself included is share a British culture Gospel to the mission field, be that Peru, France or Asia... the problem is, is that British culture is by no means the standard at which the world should live and the cultural things that we have and do can restrict us and imprison us. So when we share the Gospel there can be an emphasis on British time keeping or way of doing church or CU or anything like that which fits well in our culture but not in a different culture. There isn´t much we can do about some of them, but in some ways we need to be ready to integrate and change in order to be flexable. Because the Gospel can reach all cultures and its the Gospel we have as our standard and how to live as a body of Christ and how to love one another.
There is a brilliant quote in this book that I want to share:
"We must understand that transforming a society does not mean moving people from their prison (culture) into ours but rather helping them to know Christ and be transformed personally and communally into people and communities of the Spirit. If we are to minister successfully to the members of a different society, therefore, we must learn about and participate in their culture" - Ministering Cross Cultrally, pg 120
I wonder how that would not only translate in different countries but in Britian when trying to reach internationals. How can we reach the Gospel to them when sometimes it may fall on deaf ears because we have not shown respect and interest in their culture first and we have not learnt ways to communicate to them that will build relationships with them?
Or we have tried to impose our culture on them rather then sharing Jesus with them?
It makes me think a lot about how barriers can be put up straight away just because we dont understand the culture and where they are coming from as they enter our churches or CUs.
So the question is, how can we as Christians reach international people as they enter our churches with an understanding of their culture that will enable us to reach them with our lives and the Gospel rather then a British way of doing things?