Summary: USING THE BOOK OF HEBREWS FOR EFFECTIVE CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
USING THE BOOK OF HEBREWS FOR EFFECTIVE CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
Introduction - The problem of any communicator lies in one’s ability to make his message speak to the heart felt needs of his audience. Fifteen years ago, I talked with one of my Jewish friends after an Old Testament survey class. I asked him, "What is your favorite passage in the Bible?" He thought for a minute and said, "I think it is the first eight chapters of First Chronicles." Since, I did not know that portion of the Old Testament that well, I pressed him further and asked why. He said, "These are Hebrew genealogies." To my way of thinking, these are some of the most boring sections of the Bible. Give me Romans 12-15 any day for practical advise. Little did I realize how important that conversation would be for my understanding of teaching African in a Nigerian seminary.
To my Jewish friend, like my Nigerian students, genealogies describe the rich heritage exhibited in a kin-ship oriented society unlike my own - individualistic one. To my Jewish friend, an active member of "Jews For Jesus" evangelistic commission, as well as to my African students, genealogies tell more about the love of God through history than many other sections in the scriptures. Like my Jewish classmate, many of my Nigerian students were far more apt to respond to the messages of the Hebrew historical viewpoint than the western - individualistic outlook. The medium would really become the message as Marshall McCuhan so aptly taught us back at the dawn of the television age. It was all a matter of perspective related communication. ]
Case Study - Today, as I drove around Jos, Nigeria, I discovered another illustration of the importance of contextualized learning. While I was looking for petrol I turned on my car radio only to hear another ghastly sound of chanting, drums, and an ear splitting horns interspersed with a man singing Hausa proverbs. Then I thought, perhaps some of my teaching, preaching, and evangelism pitches sound just like that to many Africans. I had often assumed that the main problem of presenting Biblical truth was how to relate the gospel to an African world view without compromising its content. Similarly, when I watch students doze off in my seminary classes, I question my own ability to teach relevantly, effectively, and contextually. When is all of this confusion about cross-cultural communication going to get easier? It makes me wonder, "What is it going to take to make my teaching, communicating, and preaching ministries speak in a frequency that most Africans want to hear?"
Recently, I picked up a small booklet called Jesus in African Culture by Kwame Bekiako. He suggests presenting Christ as the answer to the questions Africans are wrestling with rather than the one’s most of the well meaning white theologians ask. He stimulated my thinking by calling the book of Hebrews as "Our Epistle". He says the following about Hebrews as one of the key books in the New Testament to bridge the gaps between Africans and the New Testament portrayal of Christ: