Friday, April 15, 2011

Reaching Across Cultures

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19 NAS)

Cross-Cultural MissionsSome years ago I attended a missions awareness seminar, and this is what I have learned.

Seen from the perspective of the Great Commission, missions may be classified under three categories:

M1: Mission within local context where local language is used

M2: Mission within local context where different language is used or where crossing the line to different living conditions is required

M3: Outside local context with totally different culture, living habits, language in foreign lands

Cross-cultural evangelism refers to M2 and M3, which means it is not limited to cross-geographical. People of different cultures are often found within the same politically-defined space, and in a less formal definition, ‘cross-income-group’ evangelism may also be considered cross-cultural missions.

Many people in the world today are still unreached by the Gospel despite much urbanization. If only M1 is adopted, many will perish without knowing Christ. As believers in the Lord, therefore, we ought to reach the unreached people (Matthew 28:19-20). The unreached people are those people groups which so far have not had an opportunity to receive the gospel and respond to it because of geographical, linguistic or cultural barriers, or a combination of these.

Some examples of unreached people in local context are:

  1. Foreign workers (imported laborers). Domestic helps or construction site laborers who normally work long hours and are not reached by ordinary means of evangelism.
  2. Shift workers. This would include people employed in hotels, cabarets, hawking, etc.
  3. Dialect speakers. Particularly those in the older generation, many of who are illiterate and face linguistic and cultural barriers.
  4. Blue-collar workers. Those working at construction sites and factories.
Cross-cultural evangelism is essential if we want to reach the unreached people. The church and missions organizations as a whole must work together to achieve this goal.

In preparing ourselves to participate in cross-cultural missions, the following are a few things we may wish to first think about:

  1. Knowledge. Gather enough information concerning unreached people groups through mission magazines, mission organizations, etc.
  2. Prayer. Begin to pray for this unreached people groups specifically and earnestly.
  3. Giving. Give to the mission fund on a regular basis.
  4. Consideration. Consider how we can participate in missions, such as getting trained in a specific field as a professional and reaching the people of that particular group (example: studying in the technical field so as to be in contact with blue-collar workers to reach them for God).
  5. Prepare. Enroll ourselves in the study of missiology so as to be equipped adequately for the task or go on short-term mission trips.
  6. Send. Finally, work with the church or missions organizations to be sent out as missionaries (M3). We should be under the cover of the church to report on mission progress regularly.
Some factors we should consider before becoming a M3 missionary are:
  1. Eyes. Can we bear the sight of people with diseases? How do we react to a place that is filthy and unclean?
  2. Ears. Are we enthusiastic in learning foreign languages or do we see the foreigner as a barbarian?
  3. Nose. Can we take strange and unfamiliar smells?
  4. Tongue. Do we have strong stomachs that can stomach any kind of food?
  5. Back. Can we sleep and lie anywhere or do we need our regular bed, pillows, etc?
  6. Heart. What are our attitudes toward people of different color skin? Do we have compassion toward them?
  7. Marital Status. If single, are we prepared to stay single or delay marriage to go to strange lands as missionaries and bear loneliness? What about family? Are they willing to follow us or do we leave them behind? What about the children’s education?
  8. Stickability. Are we able to start and stick to the end of the ministry? How do we react under pressure?
Put in our hearts Lord to want to proclaim Your salvation to the world, beginning with people around us who share the same language. Grow in us an interest Lord to also want to learn a different language to reach the people of other cultures living around us as well. Reveal to us dear Lord how we can help or participate in the work of global missions too, that we may not be a bystander to watch and fail to bear witness. Mold us Lord and renew our spirits that we may be adaptable in all circumstances, and have a heart that genuinely cares for others.


  1. Thank you, Edmond, for this clear and organized article about missions. Several of your points are things I haven't considered before--especially concerning unreached people in the local area. As always, you make me think.

  2. Hi Lisa ... glad this article is meaningful and informative to you. God bless.



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