Our Reader’s Write

Contrasting Worldviews
In reading Leanne Dzubinski’s “Contrasting Worldviews and Their Implications for Missions in Spain” (January 2008), I am impressed with the parallels between issues regarding flexibility and adaptation for effectiveness in missions in Spain and similar principles of contextualizing of a messenger in any North African or Middle Eastern context.

Contrasting Worldviews
In reading Leanne Dzubinski’s “Contrasting Worldviews and Their Implications for Missions in Spain” (January 2008), I am impressed with the parallels between issues regarding flexibility and adaptation for effectiveness in missions in Spain and similar principles of contextualizing of a messenger in any North African or Middle Eastern context. Perhaps the Arabic roots of much of Spanish culture need to be examined historically and socially by anyone hoping to do cross-cultural service there. Political and geographic alliances and proximities are not always reliable cultural markers; perhaps Spanish cultures are less “European” than one might first assume (if, by European, we mean the dominant Protestant worldviews of northern Europe).

What are the implications for cross-cultural service in other parts of the world? Can any European/American missionary to Africa even begin to hope for real partnership and empowerment without taking into account the historical/social fallout of the age of colonialism/imperialism as chronicled, for example, by Thomas Pakenham’s The Scramble for Africa, especially if we persist in mission models that were developed within and shaped by that tragic period? The question to those of us in Western missions is: With all the study of culture, anthropology, linguistics, etc., of the past four decades culminating in the “science” of missiology, are we making any spiritual headway in being more in tune with the movements of the Spirit of God as he shapes all parties involved in cross-cultural kingdom engagements? Or, do we allow our cultural biases and Western perspectives to follow the worldly patterns of prosperity, privilege, and power even in our mission call? Thank you, Leanne, for sparking this self-assessment on my part.
—Dan McVey, Halbert Institute for Missions, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas

January Issue
The January 2008 issue of EMQ was excellent. Several of the articles addressed practical matters that have, for too long, been overlooked. I am tempted to comment on nearly every article; however, I will limit myself to three. First, Tyler Emler (“Revered for All the Wrong Reasons”) is to be commended for tackling the difficult issue of being revered for the wrong reasons. He handles the matter well. Indeed, we must use whatever platform we are given to point people to Jesus.

Second, Paul Hiebert’s (“Clean and Dirty: Cross-cultural Misunderstandings in India”) thoughts on cultural misunderstandings in India have more application to Africa than many will realize. Many of us have been too informal, sometimes downright insulting, in the way we have dressed and behaved in Africa.

Third, Victor Kuligin’s (“The Pros and Cons of Preaching with an Interpreter”) thoughts on working through an interpreter are of practical use to both short-term and long-term workers. I would add two additional thoughts. First, make an extra copy of your outline or notes and give it to the interpreter. Although some will not use it, some will. In many cases, it will make their task much easier. This is especially important when one of the key words in the source language could be translated in more than one way in the target language. If the topic is faith, and the interpreter does not know where the lesson is headed, he or she might interpret the first use of the term with a word with one shade of meaning, only to realize later that a different word would have been more appropriate. An advanced copy of the outline could avoid such an error. Having the outline a few minutes ahead will also allow the interpreter to mark Bible passages that may need to be read. Second, match the personality of the interpreter to that of the speaker whenever possible. A dramatic speaker needs a dramatic interpreter. A calmer speaker does better with a calmer interpreter.

Kudos to these and the other contributors. It was a most encouraging and useful issue.
—Thayer Salisbury

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