Week 2: Introduction to Culture Specific Evangelism (part 2) September 21-27

  • View Week Two Video (Dr. Daniel Kikawa).
  • Read through and play Game #1 in The Cross-Cultural Evangelism Game. If possible, use the workbook in a group-learning experience.
  • Pray daily for Japan and Japanese, using Operation Japan.
  • Post thoughts and questions online.


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    Week 2 comment

    Harumi Butler

    n Game #1 I think I learned how to respect other people’s belief in god. Dr. Kikawa’s book said, “Therefore, do not be surprised if indigenous people already know Jehovah God by the name that God gave to them, they just haven’t heard that he sent his son for them.” I once believed in god of Buddhism based religion in Japan. I was a strong believer then, yet I was still empty inside and seeking the purpose of my like on this earth. I remember stumbling on the claim by a missionary whom I met, “There is only one God for us.” For Japanese people, this concept of only one God exists in this world is very hard to believe. At least it was for me then. Game#1 helped me to learn to respect other’s belief first and try to understand their faith before completely denying their belief, and find the connection to Jesus. Also to accept their desires to be connected with God. I think this book helps us Christians not to talk with non-believers with the attitude of, “I know the truth. I know everything.”

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    JD's thoughts


    Week 2:
    The Evangelism Game: it seems that in every example, it’s possible to use a popular custom and give it a new meaning or liken it in some way to the gospel. This really takes a while to wrap your mind around. My initial response would often be negative, but it’s because I’m seeing everything thru western eyes.
    Video: the first point “people have a hard time understanding a Western gospel from their world view,” was puzzling. After all, the gospel is not “western.” Christianity has eastern roots. I guess the way we frame or express the gospel (i.e. using John 3:16, 4 Spiritual Laws, Romans Road, sinners prayer, etc) is tailored to a western mind. Decoding a culture, looking for signposts, and even getting to know a person and understanding where their heart is, are all valuable in communicating the gospel.
    Second point: It’s all about love. I couldn’t agree more. It always begins and ends with love. Love can be the greatest communicator. I think that’s another part of decoding a culture, is understanding how to communicate love. Both how to give, and how to receive.

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    Week 2 reflections

    Linda Grimms

    The Culture Game is powerfully thought-provoking. What I appreciated about the Comments to each scenario was the way it demonstrated the often-times pagan origins of some Christian traditions and of some secular traditions associated with Christian holidays (Easter, etc.). Good perspective – and good reminder to be alert to cultural tradition versus biblical practice. It shows the value of taking time to dive deeply into understanding culture and practices, and how they might be integrated into church culture of a people group.

    As I read Scripture and consider cultural practices, though, how do I draw a line about borrowing cultural traditions that contradict what the Bible reveals about who God is. There are some aspects of His character that seem non-negotiable in our faith practices. For example, the OT shows me that God was so very angry about pagan traditions that involved child sacrifice. So, in my own understanding, I would need to think deeply about integrating local church practice that was grounded on a system of child sacrifice. So, what I wrestle with in answering the scenarios is how to respond to cultural traditions that appear to deeply conflict with God’s character. I think there is much to learn about these cultural traditions that reflect God’s general revelation, but I am also alert to risks of syncretism.

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    Mariko's thoughts and questions


    The culture game was very thought-provoking, practical, and helpful as we are learning how to love those who are completely different backgrounds and beliefs. I could not stop thinking about the different stories or situations that I have heard or encountered in the past. We must be extremely careful about making a judgment call on indigenous practice or customs and tell them to detach from it or stop practicing it. We need to understand the origin of that practice and why they are doing it. Furthermore, what that means to that individual person.
    Growing up with Japanese grandparents, there were numerous things they did gave me questions. My grandmother offered a fresh cup of rice to two altars each morning, but she didn’t know why she was doing except she was afraid of what might happen if she didn’t. One point of her life, she was invited by her neighbor to go to her church and she started to attend. However, an unfortunate thing happened, one of the church members (not a missionary) told her to throw out her altars if she wanted to be a Christian. Since her youngest daughter died right after she was born, the altar was one of her comforts for the death of her baby. Because of that, she decided not to go back to church. Obviously, God hates idol worship, and keeping an altar in a house is not a good idea. But at what point do you address this kind of issue?? If that person waited to share such a sensitive matter till later/after she developed a loving relationship with my grandmother, she could have been possibly saved a whole a lot sooner. 1Cor. 13 comes to my mind.

    • Minako Wilkinson


      The story of your grandmother was painful to read, and I’m sorry for that to happen to her. I agree with your opinion that your grandmother needed to understand who God is, that He loves her and He cares for her and He alone is the God before she was told to throw away the altar.

      When I came to faith in Jesus Christ and I was the only believer in my family, I wrestled a lot with the question of what to do about the family altar in our house. My father was the first son of my paternal grandparents, so he and my mother had the responsibility to carry on the family tradition of ancestor worship. I felt led to participate in the family tradition whenever I was at home but made clear to my family that I was praying to Jesus when I bowed down at the family altar out of my respect for my parents. Later on when my parents came to faith in Jesus Christ, I wrestled with the issue with the family altar again. My spiritual mentor told me that rather than telling my parents to stop the family traditions, I should wait to see them develop a deeper relationship with the God of the Bible and understand that He alone is God, then God would take care of the family altar. In God’s time, He did. We still have the altar but only as a token of our respect for our ancestors.

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    Mike's Week 2 Observations


    The idea of Cultural Specific Evangelism Dr Kikawa focuses around the idea of Loving People. Since He loves us, and reached out to us in spite of our utter brokenness and depravity we are motivated to do likewise to others. Coming in love to a new culture can help us seek to understand the deeper meanings and search for those redemptive analogies and also look into cultural practices which we may not understand. Just because something is different may not mean it is wrong or bad (or evil). However, there is a need for discernment and wisdom. Perhaps it is helpful to have a “bridge person” in the new culture that can help explain what we see or experience that feels different. Without some explanations and time, we can jump to conclusions that are not accurate or kind or loving. The game is a set of practical and real world examples of cultural practices that may be needing additional wisdom and discernment.

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    Inho’s week 2 reflection


    The culture game was Very practical, insightful and informative. We easily forget that each of us are so strongly influenced by our own cultural traditions and mindsets. We can not be totally neutral and also one culture should not dominate all the others. So as the reading emphasizes, discerning the differences without having any sort of cultural bias is really important to build up right relationship with the people from other culture. I strongly agree that in our current world, Christianity is often interpreted in favor of westernized standards and it might be harmful in spreading gospel in outside of western world. We should be aware of the danger of syncretism too, but we have to be remember it first that differences and uncomfortableness doesn’t mean that they are wrong.

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    Jim Woo

    I’m glad that God shows Himself to sinful man, past, present, and future. We often have incomplete views of God, and may even attribute some human traits and behaviors, but it provides a starting point to understanding the truth. We learn more as we journey with Him. I’m also happy that some practices against God have now been repurposed to be for God.

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    Esha: CSE101: Week 2


    This week’s video was very helpful. I enjoyed playing the evangelism game #1, although I wish I could play it with others. There were times that I struggled answering a question, as I felt I needed more information. I has many such experiences in India where I had to decide between A, B or C options. And often, choosing something over another led to offending someone or weakening a relationship. I will provide an example. Since India is about 80 percent Hindu, most of my friends were Hindu. It was customary for people to go to temple on their birthday (since people have a small shrine in their house, much like Japanese homes, people didn’t need to go to the temple every day except on special occasions). During the temple visit, a plate of sweet assortment was offered to the idols and then brought back to home/school to distribute it among friends. It was almost hard for me to decide to (A) accept the sweet because it was my friend’s birthday so it will be rude to reject it (B) Tell myself that all food is made holy by God so it doesn’t make a difference (C) politely reject the food (although there is no way to be polite in Indian culture while rejecting the food) and lose the friendship. And this is just one example. I have countless more incidences. The point is that it wasn’t always easy. And many times, we don’t know the right answer.

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    Minako's Week 2 reflection

    Minako Wilkinson

    The Cultural Game #1 was very helpful for me to think through what practices and traditions in a given culture missionaries could use in order to see the gospel spread in that culture and to help new/weak believers in that culture. Passages such as 1 Cor 8, 1 Cor 9: 19-22, Romans 14 are useful to weigh in on the various situations in the Cultural Game. Situation 7 was difficult for me to think through, but I decided on answer c. Since the sexual rites were done in the distant past and were no longer practiced, I would go to the feast and explain that Jehovah God is the Giver of life, and when a church is planted, I’d allow the church building to be decorated with the nuts as a new symbol of God’s provision and faithfulness to us.

    Later I read the comments on these situations and learned that a lot of what we do in the West (celebrating Christmas on Dec 25 and calling the Lord’s resurrection Easter and many more) have pagan origins and we would not think twice about keeping these customs and traditions while forbidding peoples of other cultures from using their own customs and traditions. And the author’s last comment about taking a risk for the spread of the gospel was sobering to me.

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    Japanese and Tsumi

    Marty Parker

    My heart obviously hurts over your friend’s experience with her father when she shared the Gospel while using the word TSUMI for sin. But this is an example of a word-concept fallacy, that is, when a word is not present but the concept is present.

    The same problem would exist for anyone who has a bias against a word for sin in any language. You’ll find this type of bias growing against sin especially in the United States, which makes it difficult to minister the Gospel in this context as well.

    So, the remedy is to find a work-around for a word-concept fallacy. Sin as a concept still exists in Japanese culture even if you never use the word TSUMI. And the concept of sin, still exists across the world even where there is bias against the word itself.

    Don’t forget, that a few Christian core doctrines face the word-concept fallacy. Some Christians get weirded out that the word Rapture isn’t in the bible, yet the theology is present for it. Cults spaz-out that the word Trinity isn’t in the bible, and yet the concept is obvious and unavoidable by the way Jesus talks about himself, etc…