A month ago, my new adventure of living in the US began. Currently I am taking an online course that explores how to best communicate the Gospel cross-culturally (or also called Contextualization). This class could not have come at a better time as I am now living in a new culture, very different from mine.
God is a God of diversity! There is no duplication in His creation. He created us different, with different colors, languages, cultures and values etc. Often in ministry we think one model, product, or strategy fits all. But history has proven that such assumption is not the best way to do almost anything. Here is one example.
Coca Cola is available everywhere except for two countries in the world. It is the most recognized brand worldwide. Recently, they tried something new with one video. And that brought opposition in some parts of the world for example in Kenya.
Let me get back to missions. God's mission is all about life transformation. Paul was very instrumental when it came to taking the gospel beyond boundaries and connecting with the gentile world. Peter and others found it difficult to relate with the foreign cultures, that’s why Peter had to see a vision three times before he got to meet Cornelius the centurion.
I'm learning these three points that will help me to be successful in serving cross-culturally:
I tell myself that I need to be a good learner of different cultures, not just for the sake of discovering but first and most to love people who are different than me. For example, one of the countries I prayed for and is learning about is Bhutan. I was very challenged just learning about them through this video on Prayercast movement.
I want to grow in becoming a good listener. My social media use perspective was changed after I discovered how I can use it as a platform to connect with people I don't know. That was by paying attention to things people are sharing and posting on social media, and then share relevant content. This really helped me when I conducted training in different places. I have grasped some connections points before hand to connect well to the people I get to meet in person.
And finally, with my 8 years ministry experience and travels to many countries, I found loving with compassion and listening well does not come automatically or just because of experience. It comes from being dependent on the Holy Spirit. To become a witnesses for Jesus to reach the end of the earth it requires the power of the Holy Spirit.
I pray that I become a lifelong learner of people and would allow the Holy Spirit to teach me and guide me in this process.
If you have served or are serving in a new culture, what are three things you learned in your experience?
Miheret T. Eshete