God's Mission Matters
Bridge the gap!
Improving communications between here and there
By Eli Cook
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13)
A professor recently arrived in Latin America was surprised by the “passion” with which Latin Americans infuse their conversations. From the perspective of the country where he had recently served, this type of communication reflects anger and disrespect. Here however, it is a normal, important way of communicating (if you want to be heard!). Recognizing that there are differences between “here” and “there,” that there is a gap to be bridged and deciding that we want to take that leap, are the first steps to effective communication.
It is natural to view the world based on our own values, customs, culture and religious traditions. We easily expect others to adapt to our ways, rather than the other way around. Communication involves much more than an exchange of words or images, it means de-centering ourselves in order to focus on the world from another perspective. This may mean research, conversation, listening and just being together. It especially involves being respectful of that which is different, new and maybe just a little hard to understand.
But communication is not a one-way street. It is mutual sharing, mutual dialogue. Do we want to hear about how God is working around the world? Let’s be intentional. Pick a place, make contact and expect, not just to hear from them, but also to share our lives, challenges and struggles. Communication is a responsibility for all those involved. As we come to know each other we — and the global mission of the Church — are challenged and enriched.
Listen to this month’s episode of “God’s Mission Matters” and hear stories by Shannon Langley, mission co-worker in the Dominican Republic from 1997 to 2003, and by Veronica Muchiri, National Women’s Guild Organizer for the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, a partner of the PC(USA).
Bridge the gap episode toolkit
Use these resources to equip your congregation, network, youth group and other groups in your church for mission involvement. You may use any of these for activities in the context of Bible studies, Sunday Bible class, Sunday worship service and committee or session meetings.
- God’s Mission Matters: Bridge the gap
Prefer printed? Download and read this ready-to-print booklet including the text of the podcast, a study guide for group leaders and a reflection on popular culture. This is a great tool for a learning session in your congregation or mission group context.
- Download a copy of the Communication with Questions, Communication without Questions exercise from the book Técnicas participativas para la educación popular.
- Matters from Pop Culture: Lord, don’t let me be misunderstooddiscusses how easy it is for misunderstandings to occur in all kinds of relationships, even those between mission partners.
- Matters of Worship
God of all, you have given us life in abundance through Jesus Christ — your ultimate sacrifice, and the ultimate example to us of how you would have us engage with peoples of other cultures. Help us to continue learning to appreciate your intercultural ministry through Christ’s life with us on earth. Teach us how to truly “give and receive” in cross-cultural communication, with the gift of new perspective and understanding from our partners in mission at home and around the world. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
“Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ” (Presbyterian Hymnal 514)
“Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak” (Presbyterian Hymnal 426)
Tell us how YOU learned to “Bridge the gap!”
Post your story in the “Bridge the gap!” forum. You may also share your reactions to the podcast and related articles (Note: you must be a member of the Mission Crossroads interactive community to participate in the forum. We invite you to join the community today!)