Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Burqas and Cell Phones

The country of India's culture is difficult to sum up in just a few words. This is because the culture is so diverse. I've heard it said that traveling from northern India to southern India is like traveling from Norway down through Europe to Italy. It is that different from top to bottom.

Despite these differences, I'm going to attempt to summarize what I've seen. One way to do it is "East Meets West." Another is "Old Meets New."

One interesting example that I saw was women dressed in burqas talking on cell phones. When I think of burqas I think of conservative Islam. Islam tends to look backward toward its golden years of Muhammad. It is a religion that cherishes its past. Cell phones, meanwhile, are a primary example of modern technology. These phones, especially smart ones, have fundamentally changed communication within just the last fifteen years. They point to the future, making us wonder what new form of technology is coming next.

As we think about world missions, we must remember that what we see will not always "fit" what we expect. Our preconceived notions about new and old, rich and poor, black and white, intelligent and not so much, east and west, etc. frequently do not match with what we experience in other cultures. We must be flexible, becoming all things to all people, in order to effectively convey the love of Christ through the gospel.

Forrest Gump, sitting on a park bench in my home city of Savannah famously said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Missions work is something like that. You really never know what you're going to run into, whether it be near home or overseas. You may even see a woman in a burqa talking on a cell phone.

No comments: