Missionary Agreement Form Part 3

Secondly. It is very important that we should gain all the information we can of the snares and delusions in which these heathen are held. By this means we shall be able to converse with them in an intelligible manner. To know their modes of thinking, their habits, their propensities, their antipathies, the way in which they reason about God, sin, holiness, the way of salvation, and a future state, to be aware of the bewitching nature of their idolatrous worship, feasts, songs, etc., is of the highest consequence, if we would gain their attention to our discourse, and would avoid being barbarians to them. This knowledge may be easily obtained by conversing with sensible natives, by reading some parts of their works and by attentively observing their manners and customs.

There is so much to learn from this particular paragraph and part of their plan. I am afraid that the majority of missionaries over look this very essential part of our ministry. We must study their culture. To do cross cultural work you must understand something about the people that you are trying to reach.

Notice that it was their goal to gain all the information possible. That means you need to be reading their books, listening to their stories, asking them questions. Don’t just assume you know. Don’t just trust books written by others or listen to what the other missionaries have to say. You need all of that but more than that you need to mix and mingle with the people to find out what they are saying, thinking and doing.

How can we converse with them if we do not know what their words mean in their context. We can easily misinterpret what they are doing because we put it into our context and not theirs.

They consider us barbarians according to these three missionaries. We do not know how to act appropriately in their culture.

The kiss on the cheek may seem strange to you and make you feel very uncomfortable because you think of it in your context but in their context it is the warmest way possible of saying that they love and respect you.

Become a student of culture. Learn about your people.

I would love it if some of the missionaries and others reading this would make some comments about these points. You do not have to agree with me. You can make statements or ask questions. Just get involved in the discussion.

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.
1 Response
  1. Jonathan Anderson

    Great thoughts about being a student of their culture! I can see now how important it truly is to learn how they think and work as I write my classes for the Institute or just sharing with a new disciple from their point of view. I am very challenged to study not just their language but how they see life.

    You also hit home when you said learn about YOUR people! So true… They are my people now that we live here and are giving our lives to reach them!
    Thanks!

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