Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Power of Influence

Dear Dr. Lewis,

The cardinal aim of this mail is to express my appreciation to you for the positive and profound impact of your teaching- not just on me- but the entire Missions class that you taught last July at Africa Theological, Kitale, Kenya. I realize that the principles and concepts we learnt are applicable (relevant) not just in Mission work, but in all spheres of life. Personally, my life has been transformed greatly. Certainly, the combination of your experiences as a pastor and missionary, coupled with your education has made you such a fine professor. May God give you good health and open doors for you to minister to more people around the globe!

I have started a counseling-oriented ministry for which I need your prayers.

Your student...

I have always believed an in-depth study of culture is not something just for missionaries but equally important for pastors, business professionals, students and just about everyone who regularly cross cultural boundaries; which in reality is most people today who live in a culturally diverse world.  The student who sent the above note (emphasis his) is going into the field of counseling and, even in that field, there is a specific study for cross-cultural counselors and psychologists.  In every culture people have emotional and psychological needs, but how those needs arise and how to counsel those emotional needs are culturally driven.

I begin every new class with this statement. 

“I am here to help you understand culture and teach cultural anthropology.  But I want you to know I have an agenda and that is to influence you to take the Gospel to those who have never heard the message of Christ.  I want to influence you to think outside of your own culture and to think about those of other cultures.”

Another student, who is involved in the music ministry in one of the largest churches in Nairobi (built, bought and run by an American church in the U.S. - but that’s another story), confessed to me one day after class that, “I am now rethinking about my future ministry.  My church is exciting, but they have many people to do the ministry there.  I am now wondering about the many people in Africa who do not have a church.”

I do not expect every student I teach to be anthropologists or cross-cultural church planters, but in the process of teaching worldview, genealogies and cross-cultural communication, it is my goal to influence people to see the world as God does.