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Planting Trees of Life across Cultures

The 15-day African trip last month was an eye-opening experience for us as it has not only broadened our knowledge of the African culture, but also let us understand more about local languages and history. God has led us to realize that in the cross-cultural realm, we need more love and humility before planting Trees of Life everywhere.

Africa is truly different from Chinese culture and from skin color, language, inter-personal communication to family relationships, the ethnic cultures have impacted us a lot. From South Africa to Rwanda, finding a translator when visiting local churches, schools and artists was already a big issue for us. As we connected with local people more deeply, we discovered that there were 54 countries in Africa, each having its own languages and history. Such cultural stimulation has further broadened our lives.

Take the male-female relationship for example — Africa is a man-dominated society and man has the final say in everything. All heavy things were put on the woman’s head. In such circumstances, it’s hard to accept 611’s teachings on husband-wife relationship. Besides, Pastor George from Malawi of our team was displeased with us to see us tasting wine in a local winery. In his theology, a person who drinks wine will not be saved. Surely such a view is distorted, but as we care for his image of authority as a father before his children and in order not to stumble his life, I have promised him not to drink wine in his presence again.

We had a further talk after this episode and I have realized that alcoholism is a social issue in Africa and local pastors encouraged them not to drink any alcohol so as to keep them away from addiction. Though salvation is not interpreted in such a way in the bible, with love and respect, we can understand their views and acts. So we need to learn things like these on our way of planting Trees of Life everywhere across cultures.

The Kingdom culture is to come over the whole earth and I have learned that all we do is to bring them the gospel and to care for their lives, rather than trying to change them or to rule over them with a colonialist’s mindset. We are to love them and wait for them to rise up to follow the Truth by themselves. This is the Kingdom spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, cross-cultural discipleship is not easy. Even in the Chinese world, there are cultural differences between Hong Kong and Taiwan, not to mention Africa, which is so far away. We have seen another culture in this valuable trip and may God give us a humble heart so that we will bring the breath of Tree of Life to a land beyond our imagination and people in the African continent will receive the gospel. God will surely use everyone of us. I proclaim that God will pave the way for us to plant Trees of Life in Africa soon!■【2024.04.14】

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