Does Your Life Match Your Message?

August 03, 2016

Anyone who has traveled abroad has probably encountered the challenges of being in another culture, or trying to communicate when your host doesn’t speak English.  Not only is the language different, but customs may vary greatly.  How do these language and cultural differences impact sharing truth about Jesus? Who needs to change in order to communicate, the messenger or the host? Is “sharing the gospel” only a verbal matter, or is it more involved? Consider this.

Our host group has a “code of behavior” - traits or virtues that are valued and desirable to them.  Here are four tenets of this code:

                Munyal: patience, self-control, prudence, perseverance,

                Semteende: modesty, avoidance of shame, or respect for others

                Hakkille: wisdom or personal responsibility

                Tiinaade: courage or hard work

Let’s look at a couple of examples, assuming that the people we desire to reach genuinely value patience, which is also a Biblical virtue that Jesus demonstrated. Would it not be important for the messenger to demonstrate patience? What would impatience on the part of the messenger communicate? How, then, might the teachings of Jesus be viewed by the host group? Not only do the messenger’s words need to communicate truth, but his life must also match his message. 

Not only do the messenger’s words need to communicate truth, but his life must also match his message.                  

The issue of modesty has been a challenge for some of the folks who have traveled long distances to work with us.  It has been particularly difficult for some of the women. During certain times of the year it gets very hot, but there are few places where one can escape the heat. Part of dressing modestly for women involves covering the head which only seems to increase the heat. Some of the men have also been challenged by the fact that they were not allowed to wear shorts. Our national friends are faced with the same challenges that the oppressive heat presents, but they do it without complaining. 

How will our message of our all-sufficient Savior be received if it is weighed down and shrouded by grumbling and/or immodest dress? Our words and our behavior go hand-in-hand to maximize the impact of the gospel on those we have been called to serve.

- Danny Kennison, MCWA Staff

Editor's Note: Danny Kennison teaches on the topic of the messenger crossing cultures extensively in the Perspectives course. If this topic interests you, be sure to take Perspectives in Baton Rouge January-April 2017! If you do not live in Baton Rouge, you can look for a class near you HERE.  

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