This post at Real Hope for Haiti is part of a larger series, but I think it stands on its own. The topic is: How do (rural) Haitians view God and the spirit world in general, and how does this impact their lives? It matters to Christian missionaries, because it turns out [I am told] that if you show up in Haiti expecting to evangelize the same way you did back home, there are going to be a few misunderstandings.
I like the article most of all because it makes me think about American Christianity. What are our spiritual assumptions? What is it, when we turn to God, that we are seeking? Or when we don’t turn to God, what keeps us away?
–> As I mentally run through the hypothetical scenario, How would I explain Christianity in a way that is meaningful to a rural Haitian?, it turns on a part of my brain that I need to use more. Because the people I actually know (none of whom are rural Haitians, as it happens), they have problems and assumptions and experiences that matter. Eternally matter. If I am to be of any use, I need to meet them with the Gospel where they need it most. And that’s probably a different place than where I am myself, or ever was.
The funny thing is that you can get a little nervous. We explain God this way ________. If I change how I explain God to someone else, am I changing the Gospel?
Always a risk, of course. But there is also this: God is immense.
–> I’ve never had anyone ask me, “I’m trying to figure out how to deal with the spirit world, because this Christianity thing is interesting, but there are these spirits I need to placate, and I need to make sure I’m not going to end up in more trouble rather than less. Can you help me out here?” So I suspect that conversation might go a little differently than my usual 5th grade CCD class.
But it would be the same God. An unchanging, logically coherent, morally watertight God. No relativistic your-truth-is-different-from-my-truth wishwash about it. The answers aren’t different because God is any different to a suburban American 5th grader and a rural Haitian farm. The answers are only different because the questions are different.
[And no, neither of them are allowed to remarry if they murder their spouse. Bet that question comes up both places. Sheesh. People.]
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