There is a pattern for meeting human needs and sharing the Gospel in the incarnation of Christ.  Jesus left His eternal glory and status behind, surrendering His “rights, privileges and powers which He enjoyed as God’s Son.”[1] He gave up things He loved to come and participate in the culture around Him, and during His years of full-time ministry on the earth He was usually with His disciples.  In the same way, Christians will sometimes have to give up things they love, or maybe even basics such as electricity and indoor plumbing in other cultures.  Christians should never work alone, but be surrendered to working with others such as local Christians that can advise and direct them about the culture.[2] Jesus also gave up His independence, demonstrating that cross-cultural messengers need to humble themselves and learn dependence on others.[3] Finally, Jesus gave up His immunity by exposing Himself to the economic need and pain of the culture He was in.[4] In the same way, cross-cultural messengers “should expect to become vulnerable to new temptations, dangers and diseases, a strange climate, an unaccustomed loneliness and possibly death.”[5] Jesus’ example shows that Christians must approach people on their cultural terms, in their circumstances, and experience the daily life they experience to truly understand the individual needs of that people group. This includes finding a balance and developing a standard of living where it’s “natural to exchange hospitality with others on a basis of reciprocity, without embarrassment.”[6] This feels like an overwhelming challenge, but I think it would ultimately come down to emotional bonding for me, and maybe this is why He said love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus’ ministry consisted of both preaching the Gospel and physical healings on a regular basis.  He performed miracles to meet the physical needs of the sick and hurting as well as the physical needs of the hungry by feeding the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44, NIV).  Meeting human needs is universal in a sense, for example, every culture needs food, water, shelter, and the Gospel.  This goes along with the core message of Salvation that can be conveyed “to unevangelized people, a suspicious onlooking secular world and at the same time, to sending churches.”[7] It would be costly for someone going from a wealthy country to an extremely poor culture, but Jesus was willing to give His life for those people.  He commanded us to go to all the world and preach the Gospel so we must go.  Blessings, Sharon

 

[1] “The Willowbank Report,” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, 4th ed., ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 516.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Rick Love, “Identity with Integrity” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, 4th ed., ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 479.