Week 3: Introduction to culture specific evangelism (Part 3) April 27-May 3

  • View Week Three Video (Dr. Daniel Kikawa).
  • Continue with the games in The Cross-Cultural Evangelism Game, concentrating on Game 2. If possible, use the workbook in a group-learning experience.
  • Pray daily for Japan and Japanese, using Operation Japan.
  • Post thoughts and questions online.

Discussion

  • 3

    Week 3 - Brandalyn

    Brandalyn
    Reply

    The biggest things that came to mind while reading this week’s materials is: What is our primary motivation for our evangelism? Are we going in to love, to express love, to share love or are we going in to provide correction? Are we seeking to listen, and understand first before commenting and teaching, or are we quick to jump in, assume and correct how we see things? Are we being patient to trust in God to reach and save people and reveal himself, or are we rushing and operating out of a more urgent fear to have to accomplish out evangelistic goals immediately?

    Maybe our missionary training should be done in a country and culture other than our own, to expose us to seeing and living life through different eyes, making us more sensitive for when we go into other nations and cultures with the gospel.

    • alea.take

      Brandalyn, I appreciate your point about the motive being love. Love sees through, endures all things and hopes all things…

      Will you be headed to Japan soon in missions?

    • Naoko Brown

      Brandalyn,

      I totally agree with you.
      I often share this story with others and I want to share this with you. I visited a Buddhist monk, who is a fried of my husband. The monk was a fun guy, who does not necessarily follow every rule, but I could tell he was very proud of his temple. He was living with her old mother. After showing me numerous buddha’s statues and other stuff, his sweet old mother served me tea. Then she packed some rice from their own field, chest nuts from their backyard and other precious stuff. I received them with great joy and thanked them many times. Then at the end, the mother gave me a bag full of Omamori (good luck charms) from their own temple. She was so kind and wanted to bless me. But I froze up and did not know what to do. Because I knew that I would throw them out and would not appreciate them, I felt like receiving these would be dishonest and disrespectful. So I told her, “I am sorry, but I cannot receive them because I am a Christian….” Her eyes became wide and she was in a shock. Probably nobody rejected their charms. But she was still kind and said, “Oh, OK. Then let’s not do this.” I felt terrible. After that the monk took me back to my hotel, but he was not happy. He said a lot of things and among them was the statement that Christians are hypocrites.

      Looking back, I am not sure what I was trying to do: Show them my faith to Jesus? Try not to waste their charms? I really really meant well, but it didn’t come out right. I talked to my pastor about it, and he said probably I should have received the charms and then say, “Here is what I would like to give you.” and hand them some Christian item and tell them what it is and how much it means to me.

      I learned a big lesson.

    • TokyoDave

      Naoko,

      Sometimes I think we are trying to preserve our ‘holiness’ at the cost of relationship. But we know that Jesus has dealt with our holiness issue, and what remains for us is to discern how best to show love of God and love of neighbour. It’s not always obvious.

  • 2

    Thoughts from our Call

    Brandalyn
    Reply

    One of the thoughts I was going to share from our call:
    – I am trained and entrenched in working with kids who have come from traumatic/abusive experiences. In this context there is a general rule that “we can not take away a child’s coping mechanism (manipulation, tantrums, anger) until we have given them a new tool to replace it.” I think that this is wise advice for many things, including cultural specific evangelism. I think there is wisdom to taking the time to dig into a nation’s special activities and beliefs to understand them, understand the needs or desires that they address and discuss with other spiritual leaders how you could fill the needs and replace what is negatively spiritual with something that is of God. I expect that there could be much greater “success” and less change of the blending and mixing beliefs and worship practices if we’re replacing and not just forbidding and leaving voids. If we fill the voids, there won’t be the hunger to go back and fill it with spiritual acts that are not honoring God. I really appreciated reading Mariana Nesbitt’s book – I think it was Jesus for Japan – where she went through a number of events that are precious to Japanese like the 3-5-7 dedications or the priest blessing of the wraps that pregnant mothers wear and she questioned why the Christian church might not consider offering a God-honoring version that accomplishes the same desires. Could we not bless children and dedicate them to the Lord under the veil of scripture and worship to the Lord when they’re 3, 5 and 7 instead of dedicating them to other gods (unbeknownst to many Japanese parents who see it mostly as an act to obtain good luck)? Or many families are very concerned that the pregnant woman’s belt/obi is blessed by the priest to protect her and the baby and the pregnancy. Why would Christian churches not take that opportunity to bring family and congregation together, lay hands on the mother or parents, pray for them, ask God’s hand of blessing and protection – and take the opportunity to “share” that the obi possesses no magic, but it is God/Jesus who will be the one to protect and here are the scriptures that support that belief. They could still have the obi belt there when they pray. If it was really important they could write an applicable scripture in/on the obi to remember that God is the protector and giver of life. There are many opportunities. but I think that, from what I know of human nature, when we just say “no, you can’t do that, it’s bad” but we don’t replace it with a healthy, good, God-honoring alternative we set people up for disaster (especially when family expectations and cultural obligations and superstitions put extra pressure on to do these things – pressure that many of us from the west can’t even comprehend much less empathize with.

    My greatest question in all of this is (for both Japanese culture and our own):
    How can we discern and identify the practices that are harmless and those that are not. (What can safely be retained and what can’t)?
    I struggle with this since learning the history of Christmas a few years ago. In all good conscience, I can’t put up a tree and wreaths and do the whole “Christmas thing” knowing that the early “christian church” took over a pagan holiday and tried to turn it’s focus to God. If we went into a country and they had golden calf honoring day where they decorated a golden calf with wreaths and garland such and we decided to turn it to a God-honoring day, could we keep all the decorations and practices and just think differently about them? Easter even more for me! Yikes! It’s a struggle every year. If I had to stake my life on it one way or the other, I’d wager that it doesn’t honor God to take pagan practices and keep doing them on their days, but just change our lyrics and focus of thoughts to God….. I don’t know. I think there is power in actions of worship, dedication and homage. If we go and bow, or give gifts, or humble ourselves or dedicate ourselves to anything or anyone, I think it has power, even if we don’t remember or recognize or understand that power. What about when we go to Japan and a friend takes you to tour temples and shrines. If you follow all the actions, throw the money, ring the bells, bow, clap etc…. is there no power if you just don’t think about the god of that temple? Or is there.

    This gets to be an even more exaggerated example for Japan because they seem to have really lost sight of the spiritual foundation of most of what they do and so many of the actions are there, but the underlying messages and beliefs aren’t… but does that automatically mean that they are “safe” – ? This is something I’d love to dig into with people who really had an understanding of these things.

    • TokyoDave

      I too am really enjoying Mariana Nesbitt’s ‘”Jesus for Japan”. The 7-5-3 festival has been adapted by at least some Christian churches, and was by my previous church.

      I think that anything that is not against Christ can be, if done with thanks to God, acceptable for us.

    • Ed Thomas

      Hi Dave – I’m interested to hear how things like the 7-5-3 festival have gone over. For those in the church who have participated, does this completely replace the shrine experience or do the members still go to the shrine separate from the church event/separate from church leadership? Likewise, to your knowledge, do summer festivals held at the church, or at a non-shrine setting, attract any non-church members from the local community, or are these festivals inextricably linked to the shrine experience (this was the opinion of an IMB missionary we recently spoke to, but he is relatively new to the field (2.5 years)). Thanks! Ed

  • 1

    Week 3: A.T. Impressions

    alea.take
    Reply

    This week gave us the opportunity to try Game 2. These exercises have brought to light a better awareness of my unintentional cultural biases.

    Without even knowing I was doing so, I was “seeing” my world around me with my dominant “eye” or view only.

    This exercise is a practical helpful tool that can be used for good discussion.

    I appreciated also what Kikawa sensei shared about how, ` often out of fear of making a mistake, missionaries, fear doing something wrong and/or that God will be displeased with us when we stand before him. But what we are really thinking of is our own safety and ourselves`. I developed these same fears over the years in Japan from being told so many corrections, but what I can see now is that even how I am blinded to see, others are too in viewing our own cultural background and worldview. These such fears are also rooted in fear of `others opinions` rather than a fear of God. There is also pride at the heart of not wanting to make a mistake too. I needed this weeks truth to remind me that as I seek to love and serve Him, He will equip with the understanding needed for each encounter. And that God is not limited by little me. Ive seen countless times in Japan… where I lacked the language or understanding, God was already at work in their heart… He always provides a way. So thankful for this course.

    We cannot do anything on our own. It is by His power, His goodness, His strength, His love and by His work. Specifically praying that our Heavenly Father of Love would give us fresh eyes to see His goodness and truth around us and in the heart of the Japanese culture.

    • Naoko Brown

      Alea,
      When you go back to Japan next time, I believe the Lord will point out many new things to you. I am excited that you are learning a lot!

  • 0

    Week 3 reading

    Toby
    Reply

    Loving the comments on this lesson. Pride has no equity in God’s economy. Pride is also where I struggle. I love the story you shared Naoko. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in life is that a simple thank you when being given a gift is sufficient and welcomed from the giver…no matter the situation. Trust God with the rest. Looking forward to seeing you all this evening and learning more!

  • 0

    Week 3

    Ed Thomas
    Reply

    The game 2 exercises were once again very eye-opening! It’s not hard to see how these physical/physiologic blind spots correspond to our cultural blind spots and biases. I appreciated that Kikawa-sensei highlighted that these blind spots and biases are not intentional or vicious, but critically important to be aware of if one wishes to effectively lift up Jesus in a way that His true nature can be seen in their culture.