Adroa is a missionary serving in the Republic of Uganda. The specific culture in Uganda in which he serves is not presented in order to protect the privacy of the people he serves.
The Languages of Culture: The Spoken Word
Read Adroa’s story and learn how using The Spoken Word influenced his ability to understand – and be understood – among the people of Uganda.
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I was serving as a pastor in Uganda and I always had a desire for further training, especially as I was training other pastors, and the opportunity to study came up to Western Seminary in Portland.
I ended up at Culture Bound in a learning environment, which also supplemented what I was being taught at Western Seminary.
We had a number of people from different nations [at CultureBound]. We had families, we had missionaries in transit who came and lived there with us. And so to live there and to do some studies in cross cultural communication that was really good. Learning the languages of culture and seeking to apply them.
They’re a cross cultural setting and being helped to imagine how practical that would be when in the mission field. Real gospel situation of proclaiming the good news to a culture we don’t belong to. So I was trained in that and I was greatly helped to know myself; identifying and making a godly use of cultural expressions and insights. That’s something I benefited greatly from Culture Bound and also practicing how to be a self-directed culture learner.
We had a mission in a place in north-eastern Uganda, which is considered backwards compared to the rest of the nation. The way the people still can walk naked and not clothed. There are few schools and so it’s a culture of keeping to themselves. And so I looked at them and they’re not educated, and so many people not smiling, are not happy.
But in trying to understand how to bring the gospel to them, I needed to ask a very important question that would tell me they have values. And I used what I had learned at Culture Bound and asked the question among the leaders, “What makes a real man, a respected man in this culture?” And in asking that question, I got to know about what a man is. They told me a man here is a warrior. A man has to go and fight and win and steal.
And so when I was thinking in gospel terms, I looked at those values that way, uh, to make a warrior includes the killing, and destroying, and stealing. And those qualities that somehow in the Bible I did find with the devil himself. And I saw working from those cultural expressions and the insights, I saw how sin was energized by those values as compared to cultures where murder may be considered bad, and stealing is considered bad. But where it is honored and glorified I started understanding the best way to actually reach them and redefine a real man, not from their culture, but from a godly perspective and to bring down the strongholds in their minds in terms of thinking of greatness, thinking of reality, and changing their paradigm.
Once you understand the culture and you know the values that guide that culture, that’s the only way you can bring the biblical foundations for ministry across that culture.
That’s how you can give a biblical perspective. You do not just teach the culture but rather teach the Bible, but you bring the Bible, so the world, understanding the world, and understanding the dynamic between taking the word of God to the world requires that cultural understanding.
So biblical foundations set out a rolling process of understanding, of ethical involvement, of convictions, a realignment with what God wants. That’s the place for biblical foundations, even before we get to skill building in regard to the cultural dynamic.
So cultural expressions lead you to cultural values which then prepare your message, prepare you to set your message pointed where to shut anything that is not biblical and keep communicating with people as they question and answer questions and answer any inquiries directed, and they see the word of God really resolving their culture. It’s a process that goes on, but not just a process among the cultures we reach. It’s a process that goes on among us who reached them because we continue to learn their culture and we learn ourselves and understand how we are likely to respond in every setting.
So there is more peace and there is more work going on. People understanding culture and making godly use of cultural expressions and insights among them.
It was helpful for me to have Culture Bound, it reached through the relationships and sharing the ideas by those that guided us in learning ourselves and learning where we’re going to start shaping the message for the audience in such a way that the Gospel is preached.
We are helping people to recognize their own cultural backgrounds so that they can build skills in intercultural communication principles
Anybody benefiting from Culture Bound is already positioned and thinking about how to reach other cultures and so Culture Bound skills such people, helping them to recognize their own cultural backgrounds and identifying and making godly use of expressions and insights so that the dynamic of reaching them is possible.
It was beyond the language, I just thought always that once you know the language, then you can communicate. But it went back into the thinking on the issues, the elements of world view, the power structures in a culture, who the elders are, how they are respected, the place of a pastor, more than a preaching. It’s really taught me, how I view of the church because sometimes what is in the culture is what is transferred to the church.
So on one hand you have a person that has a desire to reach other cultures in a very dynamic of reaching. And that’s where Culture Bound helps because practicing how to be a self-directed culture learner, those are very helpful things. So Culture Bound answers the question, how do I reach the people because I have the desire, and I have the content of knowledge to pass them, to pass on to them. How do I do that?
And I think Culture Bound answers that because laying the biblical foundations gives a biblical perspective, that’s what Culture Bound does. Then skill building in intercultural communication principles allows the person in their being to express themselves in their doing. So you’ll have a person well positioned and prepared to share the gospel. And Culture Bound gives them knowledge of themselves, therefore, they’re able to know their biases, they kind of predict how they will respond to situations, the frame of thinking and that very dynamic can be encouraged by Culture Bound. So I would encourage people to use this opportunity
So they may be missionaries that are already doing it, but they can be heightened and augmented by removing the scales from their eyes first of all to see themselves and to see better the cultures that they are seeking to reach.
The WORD became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14