I shared once before about a pastor’s wife who was doing abortions as a way to show God’s love to her community. Despite the many church-based trainings that she had been to, she had no idea that what she was doing was wrong. As she saw it, families were already too large, there wasn’t enough food for everyone, and an extra mouth would put too much pressure on the family’s meagre rations. She had never heard that human life, created in the image of God, knitted together in the mother’s womb, is sacred.
This pastor’s wife is not unique. While the example may be more startling than most, there are millions of Christians who know only a fraction of the gospel message. Part of the problem goes back to evangelism.
My friend Geeta is a first generation Christian. She grew up in a Hindu family—her father was a conservative Hindu—and discovered Christianity later in life.
First generation Christian, convert, people from other faiths, Hindu/Muslim background— there are many ways to describe someone who became a Christian later in life. Some convert to Christianity as an adult, others are part of a whole family conversion—following the decision of the head of the household to follow Christ.
How do you reach an unreached people group? There’s lots of deep thinkers creating deep thoughts on the topic. But what happens when the people that are reaching out to the unreached people group haven’t had the opportunity of training and equipping themselves?
It’s easy to glamorize it, to imagine telling Bible stories to those who have never heard before…seeing those you share with fall in love with God and turn their lives over to Him. But what happens when you don’t know their language? It’s easy to learn the daily words of a language (well not for me, but our friends in the rural outskirts seem to take on the challenge with little problem at all.) However, it gets a lot more tricky when you get to words like ‘God.’ Unlike something like chicken, you can just point and ask how to say it in their language. You also can’t act it out. And yet, God… it’s hard to share the gospel message if we have none of those words. Continue reading
We met Palash, Dawa and their family through Lutheran Social Services in November of 2014. They came to the US after having lived in a Nepali refugee camp for over 20 years. Their son Gopal was born there and Dawa had only seen life outside the camp for 1 year. They spoke no English and had no idea what I meant when I told them (demonstrated to them) that the winters in Sioux Falls would be very cold!!!
The family is of Bhutanese decent but had been relocated for several reasons as refugees in neighboring Nepal. With little physical resources but big hearts the family arrived to Sioux Falls in November and started their new life here as American citizens.
As a family we had no idea what spending time with our new friends from Bhutan/Nepal would mean. We had never done this before but we were excited to welcome our new friends to our country. Many questions remained but we quickly jumped in and started to get to know them.
Six ethnic groups. Four countries. The Wholistic Development Center (WDC) is full of diversity. Any day on campus you can hear conversations in a variety of languages. All of this diversity leads to amazing opportunities for cross-cultural evangelism while also creating some unique challenges.
When students arrive at WDC they come from an array of cultural backgrounds. Some come from Christian homes and others have grown up in villages that are largely animistic and can be very hostile towards outside religions. Then there are the staff. Many of the staff come from backgrounds similar to the students, but some come from completely different contexts having grown up in Europe and North America.
Last February, I shared a story about meeting our Muslim neighbors on a sweltering day in August. I’m not sure how this happened, but it is August again. It’s been a whole year since God injected love for my neighbors into my heart.
When we left our story last time, I was fumbling around cultural and religious barriers, bathing in self-doubt, and feeling like an idiot.
Basically, that’s still what I’m doing.
Imagine with me for a moment that you were in the business of selling forks. (It’s kind of a crazy analogy but just bear with me) Your work takes you to a country called India where you have heard people don’t typically use forks to eat but instead prefer the use of their fingers. You figure selling forks to this culture should be easy. So you take an allotment of forks into a village, demonstrate to them how to use it and then leave each family with a package of clean polished forks. You return 3 months later, sit down with a family in the village for lunch and you are served a heaping dish of roti, rice, and curry… with no fork! Startled, you begin to question where you went wrong. Continue reading
I remember somebody once said, “Either you do Acts 1:8 or Acts 8:1 will happen to you”, I find this statement funny and yet there is some truth in it. Either “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Or “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” God wants His name to be proclaimed throughout the nations. His plan is to use His people empowered by His Holy Spirit to make His name known, to become His witnesses among nations wherever they live.