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The Languages of Culture | Spoken Word

March 10, 2022

Jacob is a missionary serving in the Republic of Uganda. The specific culture in Uganda where he serves is not presented in order to protect the privacy of the people he serves.

Read Adroa's story and learn how using the spoken word influenced his ability to understand the people of Uganda.

I was serving as a pastor in Uganda and I always had a desire for further training, especially as I was training other pastors. The opportunity came up to attend Western Seminary in Portland. I learned about CultureBound and took their training courses, which supplemented what I was being taught at Western Seminary.

We had a number of people from different nations at the training. We had families and also missionaries in transit who were living there with us. To live there and do studies in cross-cultural communication was really beneficial. We were able to learn the languages of culture and seek to apply them.

The cross-cultural setting helped us to learn what it would be like in the mission field. They provided us with real examples of proclaiming the gospel to a culture we didn't belong to. The training greatly helped me to know myself and to identify and make a godly use of cultural expressions and insights. I also learned how to be a self-directed culture learner.

Our mission was set for northeastern Uganda, which is considered backwards to the rest of the nation. For instance, people still walk around unclothed and keep to themselves. There are very few educated people and many are unhappy and do not smile.

In trying to understand how to bring them the gospel, I needed to ask a very important question that would give me insight into their values. I used CultureBound training and asked the leaders - "What makes a real or respected man in this culture?" In asking that question I got to know their perception of a man. They said that men are warriors and must go fight, win, and steal.

In thinking gospel terms, I found those qualities aligned more with the devil. I saw that sin was energized by those values compared to cultures where murder and stealing are considered bad. I learned the best way to reach them was to redefine a real man from a godly perspective and to change their paradigm. Once you understand the culture and you know the values that guide that culture, you can bring the biblical foundations for ministry across that culture.

You teach the culture and also the bible. You bring the bible so the people can understand the world and the dynamic of taking the word of God to the world. Biblical foundations set out a rolling process of understanding, ethical involvement, convictions, and a realignment with what God wants. This is the core before skills are made in the cultural dynamic.

Cultural expressions lead you to cultural values, which then prepare your message and prepare you to set your message so that you can communicate with people as they question and answer any inquiries and they see the word of God resolving their culture. It's a process that goes on among us who reach them because we continue to learn their culture and learn how we are likely to respond in every setting.

This is the work that is going on. Understanding culture and making godly use of cultural expressions and insights bring peace. It was helpful for me to have CultureBound as it reached through the relationships by sharing ideas from those who have been there. They helped us to start shaping the message for our audiences in a way that the gospel is preached.

CultureBound benefits anybody who needs or wants to reach other cultures. They teach you to recognize your own culture and identify and make use of expressions and insight so you can reach others. It goes beyond language. It involves thinking on the issues, the elements of worldview, the power structures, the elders, how respect is given and earned, places of religion, and more.

CultureBound steps in when there is a desire to reach other cultures dynamically. They teach you to teach yourself. They answer the question, "How do I reach people?" They lay the foundation from a biblical perspective. They build your skills in intercultural communication principles, they give you knowledge of yourself, they predict how you will respond in certain situations, and they allow you to consider your frame of thinking. I would encourage people to use this organization.

You might be a missionary, but your cultural awareness and training can be heightened and augmented by removing the scales from your eyes first to see yourself and better see the culture you are trying to reach.

"The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."

John 1:14 NIV


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