Keeping up with the missionaries connected with our Monday night group, Ben just posted an update at the Spector’s blog. It’s got a great slice-of-life description of their daily activities in Cakovec (Croatia), as well as some helpful insights about how we interact with people around us based on culture. This totally lines up with this past Monday night’s study, and with where we’re probably going over the next few weeks looking at prophets and their cities. Here’s a great section from the post:
The importance of learning to function in Croatia, and its people’s cultural ways is becoming vastly clearer. The ways we function in society that we naturally learned while growing up, need to be re-mapped in a sense. What I am referring to are areas regarding the way we live, function with others, how we think through relationships, time, etc. These can differ in every culture and society. We are still learning that the old map that we grew up functioning with, usually doesn’t work here. How to talk to strangers, how to host others, how to act when being hosted, how to relate to the elderly, etc. are all minor details with significant weight. In short, as missionaries, we have to re-learn how to live and relate to others, in ways that are acceptable to them. This is all for the purpose of presenting and living out the gospel in ways that make sense to them in their setting, as opposed to what works in our American lifestyle. The ways we present the gospel to others in America, or do “outreach,” are done in ways that other American’s can relate to. For example, if I talk to a stranger in the States about the Lord, I am going to approach them in the way I naturally would a stranger. Our conversation would carry on as such, as well as our actions, jokes, etc. If I don’t know how to naturally approach a stranger in another culture, then that presents a problem. I could come across as offensive to them, without ground for them to relate to me. In some other countries, it certainly works, and in others it comes across as strange.
My point is that we are discovering that if we try to function in our original set of views, and ways of relating to people, instead of taking the time to integrate ourselves to the pace and way of life here, we remain foreign. In the end it would make us distant and un-relatable to the people, which ultimately would make our message seem foreign as well. I am not implying that we cannot minister to others or preach the gospel without fully knowing their culture. We certainly can! I am saying that since we are here in Croatia, long term, it is only fitting that we take the proper time to learn now, while we can, so that we can have better tools, now, and in the future, in the midst of God’s work.
Read the whole thing here.
Incidentally, Kristen continues to regularly update at Josh & Kristen’s blog about their mission in Moose Factory, Canada, as well.