The SaFER’s recently delved into another week long course.
Taught by our beautiful missionary colleague, Linda Arzouni, we were challenged with understanding
and appreciating the various social games played out in different cultures.
We fought and wrestled with the idea of contextualization and repeated many times to ourselves that
“different is not wrong.” Pulled from our text, Transforming Culture by Lingenfelter,
Linda composed questions for each chapter, that we were to have completed before the next class session.
I am sure that all of the girls would agree that our brains were fried by the end of each chapter.
Nevertheless, by the graciousness of God, we still somehow obtained enough information to provide thorough discussion.
Now for me, this class was counted as university credit, so it was crucial that
I bump my attentiveness up a notch. With that being said, by the end of the week
I couldn’t help but imagine if I would have chosen to take this course back in America.
Now not to say that the course would be taught at a lower standard or not offer quality material;
however, the benefit and value of being able to encounter culture and put into action the
principles learned is incomparable. I was able to sit in a room with seasoned missionaries who
shared story after story of the very instances that were mentioned in the book. ‘Alright’ you say,
‘a guest missionary can come in and teach the same course and provide the same examples’;
well, yes, true. The difference lies within the application of the student.
So I have sat in class and contended with the many culture struggles that missionaries face everyday,
I now can apply it immediately to my very own life and experiences.
I am living out contextualization at that very moment.
Let me share with you an entry from my journal discussing my own personal convictions concerning the class:
“I am on the verge of tears. I feel ashamed and the embarrassment of my ignorance has swallowed me. My worldview has been more narrow than what I thought and perceived it to be. If I am this narrow minded and ignorant as I have come to realize, I can’t imagine the suffering of the individual who has never been face to face with difference. I am finally understanding what it means to truly die to yourself. If you are truly committed and devoted to understanding and embracing culture there is NO room for selfishness. You cannot afford it. Culture is so complex and grueling at times and the moment that your perspective focuses back on you, you have then lost sight of what is around you. You must always be aware of the other person. I have found myself ignorant in the aspect of unawareness of what I was doing or not doing, which in my frame of mind: it is better to do something wrong than not do something at all, and that is exactly what I was doing. My ignorance lead me to silence and I was not asking questions...may I be transformed from ignorance into understanding, awareness, compassion.”
I truly believe that these convictions came from the result of fairly
recent experienced mistakes. If I had not been present in this setting and already
had some background in interacting with different culture, I hesitate to believe that
my response would have been the same in am American university environment.
It was crucial for me to be in this exact place at this exact time learning this precise
information. Information that has now been weaved into my being, my worldview, my attitude.
Information that will forever effect how I chose to respond to the world and its many colors.
john 4.22 - matthew 8.10.12
matthew 24 - mark 13
john 4.21-24- luke 10.29-42
matthew 15.21-28 - luke 19.1-10