Week 1: Introduction to culture specific evangelism (part 1) April 13-19


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    Week 1 - Brandalyn


    I am really so excited about this all. THIS is exactly what I have been looking for for the last year or so! I am excited by this week’s readings. I believe it all wholeheartedly. We need Jesus and God to be personal and relate-able to us (whoever and wherever we are) so that we get that He is OUR God, who LOVE US and his plans and ways are for us and not foreign. I don’t think it is really all that different than the needs for evangelizing locally in our own countries. We need Christ and the gospel to be relevant and relate-able to the hearts and needs and minds of people in 2020. It isn’t good enough to have a gospel that is of our ancestors and forefather, people need to understand how Jesus meets their needs in 2020 and how his word applies to their lives and challenges in 2020. I also really appreciated that he started to dig into the history of some of the western “Christian” traditions like Easter and Christmas. These have bothered me for some time, that most people don’t seem to know this history of where our traditions have come from and some of the very pagan roots. I think it is easy for us to be ignorant of the plank in our own eye and condemn other nations and cultures for their traditions and spiritual acts when we, ourselves have many the same. I’m not really any more sure of what to do about it in our own culture as any other culture – but I think it starts with openness to looking into the history and roots and reasons for why we do what we do, evaluating in light of God, who he is, who we are, what he calls us to, and then evaluating, through prayer, what we believe God is leading us to do. Very excited to see where this course goes from here!

    • alea.take

      Hi Brandalyn. I second your desire to see the personal relationship (whoever it is) to grow with our/their Creator. Jesus knew everyone of our sufferings and struggles and I am reminded of how much the disciples then even missed what He was doing and they were right there with Him. He always lovingly reminded and re directed. I agree understanding anothers history is important as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and heart a bit.

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Brandalyn! That was exactly how I felt when I took this course! It will get better, so keep going! 🙂

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    hello hi

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    Week 1 -AT Thoughts and Question


    The concept of relating to a people group from their own view and language is introduced to us this week. I found the image of a “signpost” within a culture to be a helpful metaphor that I will look forward to learning more about in the coming weeks.

    Because as people we all tend to stick with what is familiar to us, it is easy to see how just as the West has mistakenly assumed that most of the world thinks and operates like the west; the East also has held to and operates from its cultural understanding and world view too.

    In 2011, after the Great East Japan Disasters I heard things like, ” Japan is being punished for its long history of rejecting the gospel”. These words are so strong and even just typing them feels ”いずい” to me, but perhaps this comes from poor direction of that person to the God who made them, knows them, and has been with them all along. I now can see, from this weeks reading from Ozawa, that an identity gap could explain such a statement as well.

    I have come to appreciate specific pieces of Japanese culture such as bigaku (specifically Toki and kintsugi) and wagakki (I love shamisen though can’t play it) and see much of Gods beauty expressed in both.

    I am eager to learn how these can be used as signposts for pointing my Japanese sisters and brothers to God. I was curious if there were many Japanese instrumental versions of Christian worship songs and tried to search for it on youtube. I was surprised to only find one or two using the `koto`. I may just not know the right way to search for it also.

    I hope to learn over the course of this study how to recognize which things of the culture are intended to be uncovered and redeemed. For example: things such as carrying omikoshi for matsuri, otsukimi: harvest celebration or budo: kendo, judo, etc. Japanese are strongly connected to nature and celebrate the seasons so I think there could be many “signposts” there too. “Wa” is also something I hope to discuss. It’s such a highly regarded cultural value. How do we as disciples point Japanese to Christs measure of “peaceful unity and harmony”?

    No better time than now to be thinking on these such things as the whole world faces this invisible predator: corona virus. I have no doubt that its yet another tool of the “thief” to seek out and destroy that which is beautiful and treasured by our Creator; but I have greater Hope in His future glory to be revealed to us in the future. So grateful that our Lord has conquered death and it is finished. Thankful to be with all of you on this journey and especially to come together in prayer for Japan during this time. My heart especially has felt led to pray for the pastors and ministry leads in Japan at this time. They have many important decisions to make as shepherds of their flocks. Praying that they can continue to hear their Shepherds voice leading them through this.

    I am so thankful for this class and the opportunity to dig deeper into this topic and explore my own misconceptions. I hope also to better understand how my Japanese brother and sisters view Jesus and how I can walk with them to “find their way home”. Thank you Dr. Kikawa, Mr. Don and Naoko san for your time and commitment.

    • Brandalyn

      I am just right there with you on all this!

    • Naoko Brown

      From this course, I learned to recognize my prejudice, critical attitude and hardness of heart toward cultures, churches and each individuals. God is much bigger than I thought, indeed! Exciting to have you in the class!

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    Japanese is becoming more Western


    On the below quote from the Ozawa paper:
    “When Japanese people, for example, can become spiritually mature by
    embracing rather than denying their cultural and traditional roots, can incorporate such elements as tea ceremony (chado), calligraphy (sho), flower arranging (ikebana), traditional instruments (koto, shamisen, shakuhachi), and wearing of traditional clothing (kimono, yukata), into their spiritual-religious lives, then they will achieve “ego synthesis” and “emotional integration.”

    The old cultural forms are still there, but eclipsed in popularity by Western-influenced forms. Whether this is good or bad or neutral, I think there is a danger in falling in love with the exotic differences, rather than the culture as it actually is.

    The church I previously was part of had a ‘matsuri’ type party, where Japanese summer clothing was encouraged. It was a lot of fun.

    But much more important, I think, are the way people think of themselves, how they structure their social relationships, where they get their sense of worth…. and where they themselves see they are struggling, and where the gospel can speak life.

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Dave. With your rich experience in Japan, I am sure we will learn a lot from your comments!

      I used to think God did not care about Japan. I thought He was mad at our culture and history, and that was why we had such a small number of Christians in Japan. After taking this course some years ago, I realized I was wrong and it was such a freeing feeling. I used to run from my own culture, but now I learned to see it through the love of Christ and am constantly looking for His finger prints in the culture.

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    Resource I like: HonorShame.com