I’m enrolled in the fifteen-week course Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. I listen to amazing speakers, read and read and read some more, and do a lot of homework.
Why add this class to all that I’m already doing? Because I wanted very much to have a bigger, broader view of what the Lord is doing in the world, and for that deeper understanding to be reflected in my writing, the true missionary stories that I write for children.
And after only two weeks, I saw a very practical result. I was writing an activity page about the culture of the Dani people of Papua, Indonesia, to correlate with the book Witness Men: True Stories of God at Work in Papua, Indonesia, due out next month. On that page, among other things, I had written:
Name two things about the Dani culture that needed to change.
Name two things about the Dani culture that didn’t need to change.
Now you probably see right away what was wrong with what I just wrote, but I didn’t see it until I was reading Perspectives articles about world cultures and the beauty of the variety of expression God has made all over the world. Instead of condescendingly placing children in a position of judgment over whether or not it’s “okay” for a people group to retain something about their culture, I can help the children see the beauty in it. After reflection, this is the new wording:
Name two things about the Dani culture that, according to God’s Word, needed to change. (Yes, some things definitely needed to change, no question. The wanton killing and cannibalism. The control by demons. And other things.)
But, the second question changed even more.
Name two ways the Dani culture expressed their God-given creativity.
What about how they used cowrie shells as a medium of trade? Or how they snapped their fingers together to greet each other? Or the hundreds of ways they had figured out to fix sweet potatoes?
Let’s rejoice that in every culture, no matter how desperately in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God has implanted a beautiful expression of Himself. Then when the Danis rejoice and worship in their Dani churches, they’ll rejoice and worship in a style that is unique and beautifully their own. And God’s.
Because ultimately, every culture belongs to Him.