We've worked in Chattanooga, Tennessee housing projects since 1990. Only recently have we encountered African refugees. Refugees from hurricane Katrina, yes, and Hispanics who were roofing buildings, but not Africans. A friend led us to Mafata, a fourteen-year-old from Liberia. By God's grace she came to understand that salvation isn't based upon her goodness, but upon the death of Christ to redeem her life.
With so many trying to migrate to America, increasing foreign tourists, and opportunities for international travel, how can you share your faith with those of other cultures? If we're in a stranger's company for more than a few minutes, it might be a "divine appointment," and we might look for an avenue to share Christ. The context could be sitting next to a Hindu on a ninety-minute flight in India, at the door of Hispanics in Dalton, Georgia, in the taxi park at Torit, Sudan, or in the "projects" talking with gang-bangers, wondering how in the world to share the Good News with these neighbors (those close in proximity).
FIVE STEPS TOWARD CHRISTIAN INTERCULTURAL TEACHING
Jim Sutherland, Ph.D.
1. Foundational procedures
A. Before teaching cross-culturally, and particularly where suspicion of other
cultures is strong, we must focus first upon relationship building with leaders/gatekeepers as a prerequisite for opportunities. Who are these? A missionary proverb is: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
1. Ray Bakke, urban missiologist, notes that knowledge will only
intimidate unless there is a good relationship with students.
The Bible is a cross-cultural (cc) training document. It has the only absolutes that we possess. A member of any culture can use it safely to relate both to God and to fellow humans. Ted Ward, a missiologist, has said that commonalties outweigh differences among people. We are more alike than dissimilar. The image of God rests on all people (Gen. 1:27). All people have a longing for eternity in some form, for instance (Eccles. 3:11). God has given people consciences, which reflect another attribute shared with God, morality (Rom. 2:14-15). Humans also love, which reflects God (1 John 4:8). People also have an aesthetic sense--we appreciate sunsets and art. We enjoy beauty because God made that beauty. He himself is beautiful (Ps. 27:4). He is extravagant with that beauty, creating flowers that none will ever see but Himself. We have highly developed symbolic language. Animals communicate, but not through symbols.