How do we connect with people from a different culture and language?
Learn The Right Perspective
Did you know that we are all ethnocentric? We focus on our own culture and think that it is the right way.
How did Jesus see the world? (John 4)
Did you ever wonder how this woman in John 4 knew that Jesus was a Jew? Maybe it was the way he smelled? Maybe it was his accent? Maybe it was the way he dressed?
In some culture sleeping on a mattress is not a norm. When we were at Vietnam we slept on the floor. The interesting thing about these people was that they were from America, but they kept this cultural distinctive.
Our culture teaches us what is right and wrong and we assume that is what should be right in their cultures.
If we are going to connect with these people we need to see their worldview as different.
A worldview is more than just behavior.
It is our beliefs (what is true), values (what is good), and behaviors (how do I act). We need to move from the observable to the unobservable.
Culture is like putting glasses on. Our culture teaches us to categorize things in life as right and wrong and how things should go. This is not true. We have to start out with the right perspective.
If we go to the US or Canada football is associated with the NFL. In the UK it is associated with soccer and in Australia it is associated with rugby.
Now take the word “blessing” and start using that in other culture like the Chinese culture. In China the words used for born again would mean reincarnation.
Learn the Process
The process I use to learn worldviews goes like this:
Then we repeats the process.
We have to make objective observations using all five senses. Then we start making assumptions naturally and instantly about what it might mean, but we must ask questions to find out whether or not our assumptions are correct.
One example of learning more about a worldview is making observations about how people deal with death. How they bury people and this will tell you how they deal with crisis and issues in their life.
So I visit gave sites and burial plots. I want to see how they cope with death and I want to observe patterns, make some assumptions from the patterns I see, and then start asking questions.
As I learn these things it helps me tremendously about how to share the gospel with these people.
When I ask questions I try to ask open ended questions and try to act stupid even if I already know what I am asking about. One time I asked a guy about his tattoo and he just went on and on about what it meant and why he had it.
We need to change hearts and not just change their behaviors. As I ask these questions we learn about people’s hearts.
The process for asking can be illustrated by the 5 fingers on our hand.
On the left hand I ask these 5 questions:
On the right hand I ask these 5 questions:
We can’t just ask an Asian person if they want to believe in Jesus because they will almost always say yes so that they do not offend you. There is no heart transformation going on here. We need ask open ended questions like “What do you think about Jesus?”
Learn the Practical Handles
1. Be a regular by going to the same place for gas, groceries, coffee, haircuts, and eating out. Try to get to know the staff on a personal level.
2. Explore different parts of the community, city, or county. Find things to do in places you have not yet explored. Shop in a different part of town or try a new coffee house. Go to local restaurants that capture the local culture.
3. Pray each day for a people group. The more you pray for people groups, the more you will love them, the people and their culture. God supernaturally does a work in you heart!
4. Sports! Become a fan of the sports that the people group likes and go to all their games. Or, get involved with their sports club and join or coach a team.
5. Embrace their history. Learn the historical narrative in order to better understand them and what they have experienced.
6. Be a part of the people groups community. Live where they live. Go to their local festivals, concerts, or fundraisers. Participate missionally. Strike up conversations. Pray for the people you encounter.
7. Engage in a hobby or activity they have. Tai Chi, Cooking, Walking, Drinking Bubble Tea, etc…
8. Make them a relationship not a project or a program. People come to Christ through relationships more than they do events.
9. Learn and listen. As you live with them learn and listen to them.
In sum, here is the approach I take:
LEARNER –> TRADER –> STORYTELLER
I love to tell stories from the bible. Use the stories in the bible and tell people stories about God.