Cross-cultural missionaries are trained to learn the language and culture to which they’re being sent. Informally, they’re encouraged to eat the food and learn the local slang. D. L. Mayfield was deeply involved in ministry with refugee families. She describes learning the language first and then simply spending time, enough to learn family dynamics. “I fell into similar rhythms with everyone else: the mothers and I would talk about how we were, what was cooking, how the family was, if they wanted to do English lessons” (D. L. Mayfield, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith [New York: HarperOne, 2016], 50). You can’t understand the people if you don’t understand their culture, and you can’t share the gospel well if you don’t know the people. In order to understand Jesus, we must understand as much of his context as possible.
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