Bond with Local Folk and their Culture;
Learn their Language whenever possible
Yes, dear folk to whom our Lord has sent to serve you, we’re here to join with you in your suffering and in your joy.
Yes, Lord, we see the field you’ve made ripen for us to reap. Lead us to your persons of peace. And, since we’re to few, please thrust forth more workers.
Like Cornelius, Zacheus and Lydia, these local folk will help you build relationships within a receptive community.
Love the people, and appreciate the noble aspects of their culture. Do not spend most of your time with fellow, expatriate, team members, but with local people – learning their ways, and building relationships with them. Witness for Jesus in ways that fit local culture, ways that new believers from that culture can imitate and pass on to others, at once.
Learn the local vernacular in a way that connects you with the people and culture.
Resources For While You …
Discover persons of peace:
Bond with local folk and their culture:
Learn a language through immersion. Let local speakers help you. Let them see that you appreciate their culture and language.
Share about Jesus with Buddhists:
Serve in the crescent’s shadow. Smile as you present Jesus to Muslims. Statements about Him in the Koran contain devastating errors, but it also offers a bridge to open conversation:
Help Muslims find Messiah, as you heed Jesus’ orders for announcing His Kingdom:
Employ music in a culturally correct way in a Muslim society:
Work effectively within a hierarchical, non-democratic society:
Let translation work spark a movement. Translate into regional vernaculars rather than an “official” language used by educated elite:
Common Traps To Avoid
Wait until Scripture is translated before multiplying churches. Movements are starting today without written Scriptures being available. Use any knowledge of the local language to lay the foundation for a movement right away.
Bond with the wrong folk when arriving on a field.
Consider Jesus’ example of working among the poor and destitute. Affluent, educated Western missionaries tend to bond with the middle class, whereas history shows that church planting movements normally start in a poor, working class.
Speak only in a major, “official” language. Local people sometimes reject the Word if it comes only in a language that they associate with with a different religious or cultural group, or with a group that has economically or politically oppressed them.
Needlessly violate cultural etiquette.
Instruct believers in ways that do not impose your culture on theirs. The Good News transcends cultures, so let each culture remain free to find its own biblical expressions. Teach new believers in a general way what to do, and let them work out details.
Spend too much time building relationships before starting serious work.
Avoid crippling delays. The apostles never dallied; they built relationships with lightning speed, focusing on the task for which the Lord had commissioned them.
Let a foreign worker bond with local folk, while his wife does not.
Often a wife and mother, busy with family duties, failing to mix with folk of another culture as her husband does, cannot feel at home with them. This often leads to severe domestic tension and even to a nervous breakdown. Find ways to help a wife bond with local folk, then take the time to help her.