The Scripture Scout
3 Things to Make SURE You Do
On Your Mission Trip!
"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30
Is there actually something that could totally ruin the message of Jesus that you came to bring to your mission point? When asked this question in various mission training camps I have gotten this response: "Wait, what? Of course not! It's Jesus!" And, of course, I understand that. And at the base of it's reality, I believe that. Yet, I'm going to share with you why I have shared with some that I believe your amazing message CAN be invalidated. I want to share three ways that can happen and start with one of my favourite stories ...
Don Richardson was a missionary to New Guinea in the 70s. He spent years working with a tribe of former cannibals. This group of people were not so many years from their former way of life. Mr. Richardson had a very difficult time teaching the gospel of Jesus to this group because they would lift up, get this, JUDAS, as a hero every time he got to that part in the story! You see, deceiving was a way of life. When they were cannibals, it was a great honour to have “fattened someone with friendship for the slaughter.” They would become friends, invite them into their homes, and then “have them for dinner.” You can’t call Judas “the bad guy” in a culture of deceivers! So how do we speak the message so it makes sense? How do we share so that it is always audience understood?
The only way the aforementioned tribe finally understood Jesus was for Mr. Richardson to watch and listen long enough - and finally observe that the rivaling tribes would often trade their leaders’ first-born. As long as that child was alive, there was peace between the tribes. When Mr.. Richardson introduced Jesus as the PEACE CHILD, they understood.
Whoa. Cool. And how does this apply to YOU?
First of all, YOUR PRESENTATION is ultimately important. Of course! Cultural preparation helps the missionary present the gospel to those of another culture in a way the message is understood. For example, In a reincarnation view, history is not important. In Hindu, you try to get out of the cycle. How do you speak to someone with these world views? You can’t use “In the beginning” because time is insignificant, right? That's tricky!
Second, let's think about UNDERSTANDING HOW CHANGE OCCURS. Cultural preparation is the thing that can help a missionary get to that point. There is a sad story about the Yir Yiront tribe of Stone Age Australians who eventually, I am not making this up, BROKE APART completely when a missionary brought in steel axes for every family.
What? Wouldn't steel axes HELP? Not really. Change isn’t always good. Typically it was the patriarch of the tribe who held a wooden axe. In their culture, without one leader ... there was no tribe.
And last, something that would be a major message invalidation is something YOU would never do! And that is that you would never show refusal to BE PATIENT & LEARN. But it happens. Oh, it happens. You may have even been on a trip with someone who choose not to eat food given to them by a neighbour because it didn't look appetizing. Yeah. Bad form. See, cultural preparation teaches the missionary to be a learner.
So, how on earth can anyone be prepared for situations like the ones I just mentioned? And this is the goal in this post - to encourage you to dialogue with your missionaries about the delicacy of that culture and to discuss some important issues concerning adequate preparations for your short-term mission trip. It is imperative to communicate the positive long-term effects these trips can have but also consider that inadequate preparation can sabotage a good motive.
The guy in the cover photo? I don't see anyone else in the photo so he may simply be taking a photo of flora and fauna, but I sure hope if anyone is with him that he asked the people who know the country better than he does if it is okay to pull out his camera! You know what I mean ...
Even a brief peek into the realities of culture enable you missionary to better understand a different one - no matter how long you plan to stay there. You can start motivation by considering the group excercise from the last post with your team, but even better, please start by finding out as much about the culture before you go.
I believe in you. Now ... go! :-)
More information about preparing for your
short-term mission trip can be found here:
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