Sunday, June 10, 2012

Contextualization In Monoculturalism

Last month I caught up with Shanti, who was one of my students two years ago in a class I taught in South Asia.  In many ways Shanti’s story is common in this part of the world, but unique in its nuance.

Shanti is from the state of Manipur in the northeast of India.  Born into a Hindu family, she became a follower of Christ just a year before I met her.  Predictably the opposition to her conversion became an issue in her household.  Shanti’s father wanted to arrange her to marry a Hindu boy, but she refused.  Shanti’s pastor visited with her father and suggested she attend a training school that specializes in small trade projects for church workers and missionaries.  After completing her training she returned to her home and now works in her church.

I learned that Shanti’s mother and sister are now followers of Christ and her father has softened his attitude towards her.  At this stage she does not want to think about marriage as where she lives finding a Christian boy to marry would be difficult and her father, due to pride, would probably resist such a marriage.  Shanti is content to wait on the Lord and serve Him anyway He sees fit.

Though my passion is teaching missionaries from all parts of the world to take the Gospel cross-culturally, the teaching of how to communicate the Good News is not just for those crossing geographical boundaries.  For Christians like Shanti, who live in the midst of unreached communities, the lessons of how to contextualize the Gospel in one’s own family is relevant.   People movements are seldom, if ever, brought about in big evangelistic meetings.   Families and communities coming to Christ are more often a result of one person who tells one other person about the Savior.  In societies where the Gospel is restrained because of ethnic and religious opposition, it often the faith of one family member that becomes the catalyst for household conversions. 

Though we in missions often pray for the unreached people groups, in that prayer may we also remember Christ followers like Shanti, who faithfully live out their faith and share it with those in their own communities and, indeed, among their own family.