We can learn from one another, but first, we must have a level of understanding about one another in order to work together effectively.
Effort Bhebhe, Financial Director of ADRA SA co-ordinated the program which brought laughter and joy underlining a deep appreciation for the different cultures in the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division territory. He said: “Cultural diversity is important because our different countries, our church, our workplaces and our schools include persons of various ethnic groups and interests. Cultural diversity training also helps people to dispel negative stereotypes about one another.”
While listening to unique cultural songs and demonstrations of local customs, attendees of the Conference were enlightened with a sincere appreciation of each country’s uniqueness. “He who is closely connected with Christ is lifted above the prejudice of colour or caste. His faith takes hold of eternal realities” Testimonies, Vol.9, p. 209.
“In our worship of God, there will be no distinction between rich and poor, white and black. All prejudice will be melted away. When we approach God, it will be as one brotherhood. We are pilgrims and strangers, bound for a better country, even a heavenly” Review and Herald, Oct. 24, 1899. It is true that sometimes the gospel affirms and empowers cultures, sometimes it criticizes and challenges cultures, sometimes it shapes and changes cultures. The gospel is both embodied in cultures and at the same time transcends them.
Pastor Paul Ratsara, SID President, said that such a program is essential as we explore biblical foundations for our faith and proclamation. He further said: “there is an urgent need today for creative Christian thinkers who will be utterly loyal to the essentials of the biblical gospel, but who will express it in fresh ways appropriate to every culture … In order to communicate with us, the Eternal Word became flesh. He entered our world and lived our life. We, too, if we are to reach others who are alienated from God and from the gospel, will have to enter their cultural worlds, in particular, their thought worlds. Only so can we hope to share the good news with them in terms, which they can grasp.”
Noel Sibanda, with his team from SID Media, captured the vibrant evening and when probed about his excitement about appreciation of different cultures, he said: “the progress of the Word is from God to special messengers, from them to us and from us to the world. At each stage, there is a cultural factor. God’s own Word was spoken in specific cultural contexts. We who read it are the children of our own cultures. And as we seek to share it with others in their cultures, we must struggle to do so in categories which neither impose ours nor despise theirs. In this way we shall be imitators of God, seeking to do what he has done. We shall be speaking to people in terms of their own situation, in order that they may understand, believe and obey. This is what is meant by the “contextualization” of the gospel.”
“Besides having fun and laughter, the goal of the program was to highlight unity in diversity which is only possible when lives are touched by Jesus Christ and when we walk in the principles outlined in His word,” said Bhebhe.
Biblical Foundations may be counter-cultural, yes! But Christ transcends every culture.
Dr Paul Charles
SID Communication – We connect …