What Do I Say?

First, thanks for checking in and reading. Please forgive the errors or bad grammar. The internet is spotty here and I’m less concerned with the details than I am with telling the story. Usually I would have Laura proof read things like this and make me sound smarter than I am, but alas she is on the other side of the world. Please feel free to comment or ask questions along the way and I’ll try to answer them.

Evidently when Western folks visit a church in Malawi, it’s expected that if there is a pastor in their midst, he/she would preach at the church. I was notified of this expectation and had a few thoughts on what I might say. Being here and listening to their stories and the reality of what is happening on the ground in a particular town/village in Malawi, I am beginning to feel very small. What does a white guy from Minnesota have to say to African farmers and village members?

The obvious answer to this question is to talk about Jesus. But I’m thinking a little deeper here. Even my telling of Jesus is culturally conditioned and seen through a particular lens that I’m guessing is not shared by my new friends. Things that I take for granted about God, the world and my fellow humans most likely are not assumed by my new friends. My view of marriage, men and women, the role of children, economics, social institutions, and how to interact in culture are most likely very different.

I recognize and believe that there is such a thing as what we would call absolute truth. Something or a group of things that are true with a capital “T”. Being here in Malawi has highlighted for me the importance for those who follow Jesus, and for anyone really, to contextualize the truth we believe in. Contextualization does not necessitate that one waters down truth or capitulates to culture, but it does mean that one thinks deeply about the cultural and contextual implications of saying what you’re about to say the way you’re about to say it.

Tomorrow, I preach my first ever sermon on the continent of Africa. I’m praying for eyes to see and a sharp mind to pick up on the context and culture enough to tell the story of Jesus, his love for the world, and his dream to redeem and restore God’s good creation through this life, death & resurrection & the local church!

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One thought on “What Do I Say?

  1. I am no world traveler. I have only been out of the good ol’ US of A once in my life – a short term mission trip to China maybe 2 years ago almost. I know what you are feeling, man. I literally had one guy fixate on my face, I mean lock onto it, and looked me straight in the eye as he walked by me – no more than 8-12 inches in front of me. Think of it this way, while he walked by me his head turned only enough to maintain eye contact with me while he maintained this look of complete and utter disbelief. I am sure he was thinking, “where in the world, literally, did this guy come from, and what in the heck is he doing here?” My answer was simple – I’m with Scott.

    Cherish the time. I remember feeling like the whole town/village/whatever knew my every move. You could go nowhere without them all knowing. It was the first time in my life where I was the minority – a very different feeling, and I have not forgotten it.

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