Cross Cultural Teaching Tips

Ministry Issues | Testimony | Uganda Mission Home

One of the first things you must understand when sharing in a foreign country is the differences between the cultures, language, dress, etc. The information linked below is designed to help you gain some understanding of the issues involved and how you can avoid errors that disrupt your ability to minister. Some argue that you must remember you are a guest in another country and therefore you must respect their culture. I think this is a humanist attitude that has at its foundation the idea that your culture is superior to theirs and you are willing to condescend to theirs for a short time. I think a far greater motivation is that of Paul:

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:22-24 (ESV)

Two other issues are useful to consider. The first is to remember that even the various sections of United States have different cultural attitudes toward life, not right or wrong, just different. If you paln to make a difference in a given area, you need to understand and respect the difference. The second is to remember there are plenty of things in American culture that are ungodly. Please understand the way to correct them is with the loving and faithful preaching of the Word so that the hearts of people are changed and then the change in their lives will in time change the culture.

A missionary friend of mine included the following in one of her family prayer letters and speaks to the issue cultural impact on how one expresses themselves. She writes I'll close with one example that helped me to understand some of the ways Ugandans communicate. The woman who worked for some missionaries dropped a plate. Her response was to say to the missionary, "The plate fell, and it is dead!" The missionary replied with something like, "You dropped the plate though." The woman repeated that the plate fell and it is dead. He asked her one or two more times wanting her to take responsibility for the act, but she refused. He automatically saw that negatively and felt the woman was refusing to take responsibility for her actions. He learned through someone later on though, that to say, "I dropped the plate" in that culture means you INTENDED to drop it. Since the woman definitely did NOT intend to drop it, she used the passive form of communication to express what happened! In Uganda, people use the passive form of communication a LOT i.e. "It got lost!

Ministry Issues | Testimony | Uganda Mission Home