What Have Bill and Donna Been Up To?
Here are a few examples of what we’ve been doing recently…
- Bill has been Skyping and emailing with missionaries in the Middle East, Mexico, Brazil, the USA, and a few countries in Asia, helping them work through their language learning struggles.
- We spent a week in February and again in May at our mission’s HQ in Florida. Bill and his team made exciting progress in the development of the mobile app which will help missionaries learn language and culture.
- Bill taught a 20-hour class on language and Bible translation to 37 missionaries at Radius International, and then we attended their graduation in June. Now they are all headed out to take the gospel to Unreached People Groups.
- Bill attended on 2-week workshop on how to help missionaries better learn the worldview of the people they minister to.
Pray for us as we work to see as many well-trained missionaries as possible get out to the field.
And stay tuned for an update on the mobile app Bill’s team is creating to help missionaries learn both language and worldview!
Because everyone deserves to hear in their Heart Language.
What’s the big deal with worldview? If you want to learn more about that, keep reading…
Over 7,000 people groups have never heard of Christ. We need lots of missionaries to go. But how can we train missionaries to be effective at communicating the Gospel and making disciples once they get there? One answer: Worldview.
As you know, a big part of the training Bill is providing for missionaries is “How to learn an unknown language on your own.” We talk about that a lot.
But another important part is “How to learn an Unreached People Group’s Worldview.” Bill just spent 2 weeks at a workshop about how to help missionaries learn the worldview of the Unreached People Groups they ministry to.
A culture’s worldview is, well, how they view the world. It’s their assumptions about reality—what they believe is true about the universe; what they believe about themselves and about God (or the gods)… about morality… about the origin of everything… and about their final destiny.
God’s worldview—his version of reality as revealed in his Word—is the only one that is 100% true. Every human worldview is flawed; some are overflowing with error: evolution, no God, 3 million gods, ancestor worship, reincarnation, animism… these are parts of various major worldviews, but these strongly-held beliefs are not true!
Why is Worldview Important?
If human worldviews are full of wrong beliefs, why bother with them? When we bring God’s message—his truth—to an Unreached People Group, why do we need to learn their misguided worldview first? Why don’t we just give them the simple message of God’s truth?
BECAUSE EVERYTHING THEY HEAR WILL BE INTERPRETED IN LIGHT OF THEIR WORLDVIEW.
It’s like they are wearing glasses that have the wrong prescription, blurring everything they see. If we don’t understand their worldview, we will be unaware of all the ways they will misunderstand our message. We won’t anticipate all the ways they might blend God’s truth with their own beliefs (syncretism). They might reject the Gospel for the wrong reason, simply because they don’t clearly understand it. Or we’ll never know why they might seem to accept it when they really haven’t!
“The Bible tells us that God’s son died for our sins, and if we believe in him, we will go to heaven.”
Okay, if we were to give that version of the “simple Gospel” word-for-word to Palawanos, here are some of the many communication problems that would arise:
- Bible: The Palawanos know the “truth” based on their ancestor’s stories, and what the spirits tell the shaman; Palawanos cite their ancestors’ legacy and say that those teachings are for them, but they believe that the Bible is the Americans’ ancestors’ stories, and is only for Americans.
- God: Palawanos believe in many “gods” (rice god, river god…) The supreme creator God is thought to be uninvolved with the world, he’s not really loving, he isn’t the one who provides crops and blessings, he doesn’t really care about sin, and he has nothing to do with death or afterlife.
- Death: Palawanos don’t believe that death is because of sin or because of a judgement by God. People get sick—and sometimes die—because spirits were offended; not by sin, but by trespassing, cutting down trees, etc. So the idea of a substitutionary death as payment for sin is confusing at best.
- Sin: Almost everything Palawanos consider to be “sin” they see as offenses against people, not against God. Such “sins” are dealt with by simply avoiding the offended person until emotions calm down in order to avoid shame. Many Biblical sins are not considered by Palawanos to be sin. On the other hand, to become a Christian and therefore to stop offering to your ancestors would make you a bad (sinful) person.
- Believe: It would be rude to tell you they reject your message, so to be polite, Palawanos will pretend to believe for the sake of their relationship with you.
- Judgement: Most spirits can be manipulated by rituals and amulets, so Palawanos believe that they could manipulate God and avoid judgement.
- Destiny: Palawanos’ main concern is health and having enough food in this life; everyone dies, but it’s not because of sin; after death, everyone goes to a backwards-but-nice place called Kelebegang.
Do you see any potential problems if the missionary did not take the time to understand the Palawano worldview?
Why is Worldview Difficult to Discover?
Much of a culture’s worldview is implicitly understood. The missionary cannot simply ask, “What are all your beliefs?” and expect to get a coherent summary. Only after very intentional investigation, and much prayerful reflection, can the missionary understand the worldview and its implications for clear Gospel communication.
It’s worth every effort. People cannot be saved unless the first understand the message.
But missionaries need to be trained to do this, and that’s where we come in. It’s not enough to simply know God’s message. Missionaries need to learn another language to the point of being able to communicate the message at all. And they also need to learn the worldview of their audience in order to communicate effectively.