Cultural Challenges Missionaries Face

For those of you who are praying regularly for us, first, once again thank you and second, please pray for our adaptation to and wisdom for interacting within the Romanian culture.

We were reminded of just how challenging understanding and adapting to a different culture is when early this week Dr. Kevin Bauder posted a summary of his recent trip to participate in a Romanian seminary’s graduation ceremony on SharperIron.

While we were delighted to learn of the work that God is doing through this seminary, some of Dr. Bauder’s statements made Joshua and I say, “Hum, that’s different from what so and so said. Which information is correct?”

For example, can it really be true that communism kept liberal theology away from Romanian Baptists when Unitarians were fleeing to and establishing Romanian parishes as far back as the 1560s? And do Romanian Baptist pastors as a whole really view non-registered churches under the auspices of a “religious associations” as “deceitful and unethical? etc.”

While the first question may possibly be more a matter of semantics and defining terms than anything else, a missionary planning to enter a foreign culture must wrestle with and pin down the second question. His integrity rests on his ability to come to the truth.

Because we are currently in sunny Florida far away from my favorite place to do research –good ol’ Mack library — our resources for attempting to synthesize the conflicting information are a bit scant. But hey, there’s always that scholarly source,  Wikipedia.

My internet searches turned up less info than I hoped for (and yes, I did look further than Wikipedia), but enough to provide me with even more questions than I had started with.  Oh, the thrill of the academic hunt!

I don’t plan to abandon my search for the truth. But it does seem that the further you delve into a foreign culture especially when you are dependent on third party interpreters who are usually English speaking Americans that you have to be able to dust away the American perspective that coats all of the “facts” they generously provide.

This is an area where we need much wisdom. Especially since our own brains are also coated with a thick layer of thirty years worth of American dust. So even as we try to brush away the cultural dust of others our own dust settles on top of the newly cleaned “facts” that we are trying to synthesize.

Oh, for the day when we understand Romanian. It will make studying and understanding at least a little less grimy.

We are excited that just this week we were able to connect with a Romanian church plant in Greenville, SC and to set up an initial meeting with Pastor Aurel Keew when we return to our base in a couple of weeks. This contact thrills us. We are hoping that Pastor Keew and the members of his congregation will help up more accurately understand questions like the above from a more direct Romanian perspective.

So as we add even more “facts” and opinions to our growing collection of Romanian cultural understanding please pray that the Lord will grant us a supernatural understanding of what is truly happening in the Romanian church and that we will be able to act on that knowlege in a biblical way that will help His church grow in a way that above all pleases Him.


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