by EMQ Readers
Our readers write.
Servant Leadership Magnified
Thayer Salisbury’s critical analysis in Letters to the Editor (July 2002) of my African Leadership article (April 2001) is very much appreciated and highly valued especially because of his experience in Africa. He has highlighted several Western styles of leadership that have merit. However, I would like to point out that the purpose of my article was not to reject Western leadership methods and culture (as he suggested) but to consider some African styles of leadership as valid in their cultural context. Why is it that Westerners will learn Japanese, Chinese, Indian and other languages and cultures in order to do business in those societies but not in Africa? African management approaches are rarely heard and deserve as much of our attention as Western leadership strategies receive. In the end, we are then able to glean the best from both.
At the end of his response, Salisbury recommends that the hierarchical management structure found throughout Africa needs to change. He has every reason for making such a proposal. Exploitation, corruption and abuse of power by African leaders are all too common. And yet how refreshing it is to see a Christian African leader redeem the hierarchical system by applying servant leadership. I have observed an African administrator of a Christian university serve his guests tea, clear the dishes from the table, even walk five hundred miles to raise funds for a dormitory. I have watched an African pastor, determined to see others use and develop their gifts, limit his preaching schedule so that others may have the opportunity. Rather than sit on an elevated platform during the service he is found sitting among the congregation. Servant leadership is only magnified in hierarchical structures, giving God that much more of the glory. It’s not so much the structure, in this case, that needs changing but the people who utilize the system.
—Dr. Del Chinchen, Daystar University, Nairobi, Kenya
More on EthnoDoxology
The July issue of EMQ is really superb; many thanks to you and your staff for publishing articles in this field. And a special “thank you” for mentioning the journal Ethnodoxology, which I edit. You will be pleased to know that our site has a twenty-page sample issue posted as a PDF file, some book reviews and some sound clips (in mp3 format) of indigenous Christian music from different parts of the world. We encourage all EMQ readers interested in music and missions to visit the site again soon, which has a link to the Global Consultation on Music and Missions which will be held in September 2003.
—Paul Neeley, editor EthnoDoxology
Clashing Cultural Views of Sin
EMQ (Jan 2002) has just arrived for us in Papua New Guinea. I applaud your article in EMQ by Aaron Dean. Thank you for publishing it. In the past, I have been greatly stimulated by the three works cited and these have significantly enriched my pastoral approach in cross-cultural leadership training ministries in this country. I was particularly pleased to see Dean’s approach to marriage issues. My wife and I have been deeply involved with Melanesian marriage enrichment seminars in past years and have published books in that area.
Another significant area of tension in intercultural relationships in mission situations concerns the handling and accountability structures around church and other stewardship finances. This is especially highlighted by other articles in this issue of EMQ. Missionary, pastoral and disciplinary approaches to financial administration vary considerably and bring tension and pain. One missionary approach is to label “mismanagement,” “mishandling” and “failure to report” as gross sins and demand that the nationals involved step down from positions of responsibility and leadership in the church until they repent. One effect is to throw responsibility for financial administration back into mission control.
But we need to ask serious questions on at least two levels. First, how serious is the “sin” involved? Was the money that was used for another purpose an error of judgment, the result of ignorance, borrowed with intention to repay or deliberately stolen? Views of missionaries and nationals differ on this.
Second, in condemning the national we need to ask whether the missionaries have erred in their judgment. Have adequate guidelines and protocols been set up and agreed to? Has the training into the specific role been adequate? Have missionaries set bad precedents in their lack of accountability to national leadership structures in their own handling of money? Is there role confusion when both missionaries and nationals wear “multiple hats” in Christian ministry? Have the ground rules changed when former missionaries were replaced by others? Many more questions should be asked.
Where expatriate workers assist in church building, are they in the role of judges or should they stand alongside to assist in finding working solutions to the problems the church is confronting?
We certainly need to sort out what are “specks” and what are “planks” in cross-cultural views of sin.
—Ossie Fountain, Christian Brethren Churches of Papua New Guinea
Muslim Missions after September 11
I was disturbed to read this article (January, 2002), because of certain statements made in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The author made statements like, “Palestine has been Arabized for over twelve centuries” and “people whose families had owned the land for centuries.” I wonder if the author has read From Time Immemorial, by Joan Peters. Information in her book would tend to refute much of the Palestinian’s claims to land Arabized, and populated by Arabs for centuries. The kinds of statements he has made are the typical media versions—it is these versions that are refuted strongly by Peters. Perhaps the author should either research more before making such statements, or acknowledge that this “grievance” by terrorists has a certain amount of fictionality about it.
—Tom Feldpausch, Papua New Guinea
Dr. Woodberry Responds
My point was not that there was not a continuous Jewish presence in Palestine—as Joan Peters notes, there was. By saying it was Arabized for centuries is just that, it was primarily populated by Arabs. Additional Jews started coming in after 1881 and especially after the First Zionist Congress in 1897. By 1914 they were still just twelve percent of the population. Even after a great deal of immigration, both legal and illegal, by the time of the UN Special Commission for the division of Palestine, they were only thirty-three percent of the population and owned far less of the land. Both are people who have suffered a great deal.
—Cordially in our Lord, Dudley Woodberry
How Many Are There?
I have just finished reading the April issue of EMQ. As ever, I appreciated Gary’s “sweet reasonableness” in addressing the subject of that issue—numbers in missions. Having served two years at the US Center in Pasadena before I returned to my nomadic world of missions, I heard lots about numbers.
One point over which I have debated frequently without coming to any conclusion also seems to have been missed in the EMQ articles. How can we argue over the numbers when we will never know how many ethnic entities there are until we begin to try to reach them?
The example I am most familiar with is the Tamachek (formerly called the Tuareg) in West Africa. All the mission agencies in the area referred to them as one people group. In the few years my wife and I spent trying to learn from and encourage the missionaries in that area, we soon realized that there were at least five very distinct ethnic entities that would require quite separate approaches, probably by different missionaries, because of cultural prejudices within the social hierarchy. I have a feeling that there would probably turn out to be even more missiologically significant ethnic entities before all those who speak the Tamachek language can be said to be reached.
The same applied to the Fulani but on an even wider geographical scale. We met one missionary from Scotland who had spent two years learning Fulfulde in a place in Benin where there were a good number of professing Fulani believers. After that he was assigned to a station in the north where there were no Christians. The Fulani up there laughed at him when he spoke because he was using the dialect of people who were happy to claim to be Fulani but were formerly their slaves. The true “nobles” rejected them and the missionary who came speaking that dialect.
Unfortunately, that missionary is no longer on the field. Before he left he had reached the conclusion that there were probably several dozen separate ethnic entities within Fulani society who would not be willing to receive the gospel from others, even though they spoke the same language. The Fulani/Fulbe/Peul have this amazing cultural pride called pulaka that needs to be understood before we can begin to pronounce how many entities there are amongst the one people group.
Well, that’s got that lot off my chest and now I can get on with the practical stuff of how to reach the nomads of the world without worrying about the question I hear most often regarding them, “How many are there?”
—Malcolm Hunter Ph.D., Institute for Nomadic Studies
Seven Ingredients of Successful TEE Programs
It was good to see an article on TEE, particularly by Jim Lo (July, 2002), since he knows what he is talking about as one who has done it!
My wife and I were involved with TEE in Africa from the beginning, and worked with CAMEO to arrange the first TEE workshops bringing extension methodology to theological educators across the continent. We worked with other evangelicals in a production effort, called TEXT—Africa (Theological Education by Extension Texts), that has produced thirty-eight programmed textbooks for the home-study component of TEE which are now translated into over 160 languages around the world.
Nonformal approaches of university level training are being widely used in many countries, but it seems pastoral training in resident schools is still considered the only “proper” way to do it, even though large numbers of pastors cannot be trained in schools that require them to be extracted from their normal productive roles and ministry in their local communities.
Those of us in Bible schools and colleges who got involved in TEE in the late sixties and early seventies saw the TEE extension model as an answer to many of the problems of our existing residential schools, and the answer to many of the pastoral training needs of our churches.
Perhaps our younger missionaries of today need to start asking questions about Jim Lo’s ideas of TEE. Thank Jim for his good insights and EMQ for publishing it.
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