Friday, June 22, 2007


I received this note from reader on my Web Page. What would be your reply? Please send me your comments:
I think missions like yours are responsible for the destruction of tribal cultures around the world. You divide the young against the old by ridiculing or smearing the old traditional ways and religions. By trying to christianise everything the church has destoyed the valuble cultural diversity of many countries. In many areas this extinction of cultural values has hastened westernisation and enviromental destruction. If you were true to your secondary aim you would just help this vulnerable people without trying to convert them. I will not leave my email because of the risk of fundamentalists taking reprisals because my view is different to theirs. Surley the church should concentrate of working in the Uk to get believers here because the churches are empty these days. Please leave a message to me via your guest book as I will look back in a few days.

7 comments:

pat said...

If he/she hasn't got the guts to leave contact info I would shake the dust off my feet.

Mary B said...

I believe the primary goal of every Christian is to introduce others to the joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Cultural traditions will not necessarily be in conflict with that relationship. Those that do not conflict with Christ's teachings should be encouraged. I believe we can enjoy our diversity while serving the same great God.

Dennis said...

The writer obviously does not understand that the reason for the moral, spiritual and physical poverty of the people we work with in Africa is sin, and they need to be converted. It is impossible to help without conversion.

Susan S said...

In my limited experience in Nampula I found the local people to be loving and accepting of me. I have long known that if we accept people where we find them there if much to build on. I have happy memories of the loving Christians I met. If the person who feels so strongly about culture would take that energy and apply it to the church in the UK then with love and Christian caring progress will be made there.

Mark and Linda said...

A man was gave me an example of a missionary that should work very well. He established common ground with the people he visited, met some needs and answered some of their questions about the faith, earned the right to be heard, then taught them about Jesus. Some listened, some said we will hear more another day, and some rejected the message. This guy was Paul in Acts 17 on Mars Hill. It is sad that what people need the most they often accept last or least. "Got Jesus?"
Jacob and Janie came there because they believe in the great commission. You can't offer it without offering Jesus. Physical needs will come and go. weren't we also told "the poor will always be with you?" When worldly needs and cares cannot always be met, we can still be certain that our Father will always meet our spiritual ones...He does an awesome job with physical ones too! (In His own time)
I wish the UK person well and hope he/she will give the work of Jacob and Janie a closer work. They are sacrificing daily to care for others. Praise God!

Lovingly,

Mark Irwin

Mark and Linda said...

p.s. Sorry about a few of the words being mispelled in my earlier blog. I got in a hurry and have a sticky keyboard from drink spills. yuck!

Mark Irwin

Chris said...

Spoken as a true anthropologist from the past! Thankfully even secular antrhopology has learned the last 15 years the condescension that was inherent in believing that they alone could interact with other cultures. The anthropologist of today recognizes several facts that they were ignorant of in the past:
1. That their only responsibility was to observe the culture.
2. That they alone can interact with culture safely.
3. That "primitive cultures" are to be protected from outside influences.
4. That "primitive cultures" cannot determine for themselves whether or not they desire change or integration with other cultures.
5. That observing a cultures struggles, often life and death ones, without intervening is necessary to preserve culture.

These are all bygone ideas and for good reason. Yes, missionaries have done harm in the past, but far less harm than anthropologist historically. Thankfully anthropology today recognizes the responsibility of the anthropologist to not only observe but responsibly seek to help cultures in their desire to improve their quality of life and enculturization, should these cultures so desire it.