Category Archives: culture

Many religions, but only one God

There are many religions in East Asia, yet only one way to the One True God. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Go to http://eastasianpeoples.imb.org/ to learn about the major religions listed below and more. Commit to praying for the salvation of the East Asian People.

  • Animism In parts of China, witch doctors offer animal sacrifices and create talismans to ward off evil spirits that can cause sickness or disaster.
  • Atheism Ask a typical college student in China if he believes in God, and he will politely tell you: “There is no God. I believe in myself.”
  • Shintoism The animistic religion originated in Japan and centers its theology on the worship of spirits, or “kami.”
  • Taoism Its root word, “Tao”, literally means “The Way.” Because Taoism originated in China, many Chinese make it their religion of choice.
  • Islam 22 million people in China, especially minority people groups in the western and northwestern regions, follow Islam.
  • Buddhists The majority of Buddhists in the world today can be found in East Asia, including the majority of Taiwan’s population and most Tibetans.
  • Christianity While not the predominant worldview by any standard, there are Christians found throughout East Asia. In addition to Biblical Christianity, there are also several Christian ‘cults’ that have developed over time.

In Yueyang, the most predominant worldview is a version of ‘atheism’ in which people claim to be atheist, but in practice, they are pretty superstitious and follow some form of ‘folk’ Buddhism or ‘folk’ Taoism. For many, it is all about ‘Good Luck’ ism – basically doing whatever they feel might bring them good luck, prosperity and safety.

Please pray that eyes will be opened to truth and that hearts will be set free from the bondage of faith in empty worldviews.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Projecting Poverty Where It Doesn’t Exist

This is an article from the September-October 2011 issue Making Disciples.

Articles may be printed and distributed as much as you like.

by Steve Saint

I have been in relationship with the Waodani since 1956, when they killed my dad Nate and four of his friends. My relationship continued through the time my aunt Rachel lived with them beginning in 1958 through her death in 1994. I most recently lived with the Waodani beginning just after Aunt Rachel’s death in 1994 until later in 1997, maintaining a house and spending about one quarter of my time with them until 2008.

When people visit the Waodani, they look around and think, “Wow, these people have nothing!” People from the outside think the Waodani are poor because they don’t have three-bedroom ramblers with wall-to-wall carpeting, double garages so full of stuff the cars never fit and, I guess, because they never take vacations to exotic places like Disney World.

So, on speaking tours I began describing these jungle dwellers as “People who all have water front property, multiple houses and spend most of their time hunting and fishing.” The most common response I have gotten when describing the Waodani this way is, “Wow, would I ever like to live like that!” I agree completely. Continue reading

Chinese county imposes liquor ban on civil servants

Sometimes people from the West will take an over-simplified, black-and-white, stereotypical view China’s leaders, both local and national.  The reality is, it’s complicated and it wold be very foolish to just try and paint ALL Chinese leaders with one brush.  Just like in any government, there are good leaders and bad, honest and corrupt, skilled and inept.

I’m not an apologist for the Chinese government, but I do recognize that there are some leaders who really are trying to do the right thing.  The article sited below is an example of civil leaders making an unpopular decision to try and improve the integrity of the local government.

Please be in prayer for the leadership of Yueyang, that those who lead will do so with integrity and courage.  Pray that leaders who, maybe secretly, follow Jesus would become bold and savvy communicators of the Gospel message to their fellow leaders!  Continue reading

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 6)

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 6)

Editor’s Note: This guest blog is written by the IMB’s Regional Leader for Central Asia. It is a six part series, giving the biblical foundations and guidelines for contextualization, and making application to Christian ministry in the Muslim world. This series will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book “Look What God is Doing in the Muslim World.”

The Church:

Muslim background believers in Jesus (MBBs) should be encouraged to remain in their community as much as possible.

Muslim background believers should be encouraged to maintain their ethnic and cultural identity as much as they can without compromising their obedience to Scripture.

MBB churches should be encouraged to be indigenous in their expressions of their faith and worship, without compromising Scripture. This is particularly true in matters of style. The church should look, sound and feel local, not foreign. Continue reading

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 5)

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 5)

Editor’s Note: This guest blog is written by the IMB’s Regional Leader for Central Asia. It is a six part series, giving the biblical foundations and guidelines for contextualization, and making application to Christian ministry in the Muslim world. This series will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book “Look What God is Doing in the Muslim World.”

The Message of the Good News

We can use their book as a bridge to the Gospel, as long as we do it in a way that does not imply divine inspiration or equality with the Bible.

We can choose our terminology carefully, and delay the use of red-flag terms like “Son of God” in favor of other equally-Biblical terms until we have reached the point where we can explain those red-flag terms Biblically.

We can and should utilize the full scope of Biblical narrative to establish a worldview in which the Gospel is intelligible. The Bible doesn’t jump straight from the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 to the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1. Continue reading

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 4)

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 4)

Editor’s Note: This guest blog is written by the IMB’s Regional Leader for Central Asia. It is a six part series, giving the biblical foundations and guidelines for contextualization, and making application to Christian ministry in the Muslim world. This series will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book “Look What God is Doing in the Muslim World.”

Contextualization Guidelines

How do we apply these principles to the work of the Gospel in the Muslim world? Based on years of wrestling with the task under the authority of the word of God, here are guidelines for our work in the Muslim world, founded on these Biblical principles. The guidelines are grouped under three headings: The Messenger of the Good News, the Message of the Good News, and the Church.

The Messenger of the Good News (with primary focus on us, the foreign workers)

We must openly identify ourselves as followers of Jesus. Hiding our identity is out of bounds. Jesus made it clear that we must not deny Him before men. Security concerns are real, and we need to take them seriously. However, we must never let security concerns drive us into hiding Continue reading

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 3)

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 3)

Editor’s Note: This guest blog is written by the IMB’s Regional Leader for Central Asia. It is a six part series, giving the biblical foundations and guidelines for contextualization, and making application to Christian ministry in the Muslim world. This series will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book “Look What God is Doing in the Muslim World.”

1 Cor 9:1-23 (cont’d)

The key to understanding this passage is found in verse 12: “We endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ.” Paul’s passion was the advance of the Gospel. He didn’t want anything unnecessary to stand in the way of that advance. This did not mean that he was prepared to compromise any Biblical truth or Biblical command in the process. Verses later on in the chapter make that clear. However, he was willing to endure any inconvenience or personal hardship himself that might enable the Gospel to spread more effectively. He expanded on that thought with some key principles for cross-cultural ministry.

Contextualization as Renunciation of Rights

First, Paul voluntarily chose not to make use of legitimate rights. He had a right to eat meat, to take along a believing wife, and to receive monetary support. He would not be sinning at all if he did any of those things. Indeed, such things would be considered normal and even expected, and other apostles apparently did them. Never the less, Paul gave up those rights in order not to put any obstacle in the way of the Gospel.

We struggle with this as Americans. We are raised to demand our rights. Continue reading

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 2)

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 2)

Editor’s Note: This guest blog is written by the IMB’s Regional Leader for Central Asia. It is a six part series, giving the biblical foundations and guidelines for contextualization, and making application to Christian ministry in the Muslim world. This series will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book “Look What God is Doing in the Muslim World.”

What does the Bible have to say, then, about contextualization? Are their grounds for it in Scripture? In fact, the process of contextualization begins in the New Testament itself. There are several examples of it in Scripture, and these examples both establish the legitimacy of contextualization and teach us something of how we should go about it ourselves.

Theos & Elohim

One of the most pervasive examples of contextualization in the New Testament is also one of the most subtle. It is the use of the Greek word theos to refer to God. Theos in origin was a thoroughly pagan word, used to refer to the capricious and immoral deities of the Greek pantheon. In content and conception, it was light years away from the Biblical understanding of God. However, when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek in the centuries before Christ, theos was the word chosen Continue reading

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 1)

Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 1)

Editor’s Note: This guest blog is written by the IMB’s Regional Leader for Central Asia. It is a six part series, giving the biblical foundations and guidelines for contextualization, and making application to Christian ministry in the Muslim world. This series will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book “Look What God is Doing in the Muslim World.”

Every Christian Contextualizes

Contextualization is one of the hottest topics in Missions today. Simply put, contextualization is the word we use for the process of making the Gospel and the church as much at home as possible in a given cultural context. American Christians have a tendency to think of contextualization as something missionaries and overseas Christians do “over there,” Continue reading

Why Cities?

In 1800, only about five percent of people lived in cities. A century later this had risen to about fifteen percent. By 1975, the percentage of urban dwellers in our world had risen to forty-one percent. Estimates are that by 2050 almost 80% of the world will live in urban areas. In Asia the present growth rate will produce by the year 2000 at least fourteen cities with a population of over ten million – three of these exist already in India, namely Mumbai (Bombay), New Delhi, and Calcutta. There will be thirty-two cities with over five million citizens and more than a hundred with over a million inhabitants. In India, cities like Madras, Hyderabad, and Bangalore already have climbed over five million in population, and they are numerous more cities over or near a million in population. It is true that India is primarily a rural society; however, the cities are growing and will continue to grow. There needs to be a concerted effort and a strategy on the part of the church to penetrate these spiritual strongholds of Satan.

We live in an urban world. However, only about nine percent of evangelical Christians live in the cities of a million or more inhabitants. Continue reading