I sat warily watching the contents in the bowl I was holding.
Although it tasted just fine, it appeared to be moving! What???
No, it wasn’t melting ice cream. …And it wasn’t Rice Krispies going ‘snap, crackle, pop.’ It was a bowl of what I thought to be fresh yogurt. –It was fresh alright, but why was it moving? Was I seeing things?!
Well, the bowl of yogurt I was holding turned out to have a very active culture.
Culture; it’s the element that gives life to actions. –That’s my own definition of the word.
But wait a moment, I’m not talking about the kind of culture we put into the things we make to eat; I’m talking about culture from the standpoint of human behavior and actions.
Culture is worth watching and observing and studying.
As missionaries, we make notes about it, we analyze it, and we dig deep to know all we can about particular habits and traits people exhibit in their day-to-day practices. Why did they do that? What does it mean? For what purpose does a particular action serve? These are some of the questions we ask as we get acquainted with ‘foreign’ cultures. Learning about other cultures can be an eye-opening experience. …And it’s a key factor to understanding language.
The connection between culture and language has been noted as far back as the classical period and probably long before. The ancient Greeks, for example, distinguished between civilized peoples and bárbaros “those who babble”, i.e. those who speak unintelligible languages. The fact that different groups speak different, unintelligible languages is often considered more tangible evidence for cultural differences than other less obvious cultural traits.
New Tribes missionaries all around the world are engaged in an effort to understand the worldview of the people they desire to minister to by studying their language and culture. Our current newsletter will give you some deeper insights about the importance of understanding other cultures and peoples’ belief systems so that we can clearly communicate the message of the Bible in a way that it will be understood by the hearers.
The next time you grab a yogurt from the fridge make sure it’s not moving. …And take a moment to pray for the missionaries you know who are working to understand the language and culture of a particular group. –Just a little reminder that you, too, can have an effective part in advancing the gospel to the lost.
Thank you for your prayers and gifts of support to our ministry.
…And thanks for giving us the opportunity to serve in missions.