Missed the first part? Check it out here.
In Pakistan, your speaking into a very different context and culture than in the UK. If you haven’t thought about it before, you very quickly pick this up in the evening meetings. We are generally very well-educated here in the UK. Even people who wouldn’t call themselves Christians have some knowledge of the Christian faith (even if it’s just from RS/RE in schools). In Pakistan, you have none of that. Schools is much more a part of everyday life for kids now than it would have been for their parents. You have the younger generation with a basic level of education; and an older generation with a wealth of life experience.
It’s important to keep things simple and relatable and I often maximised on my mother’s style of storytelling – using trigger words and a response to keep people engaged and listening. Speaking through a translator makes this a nice challenge. I often forgot to wait for a response because it doesn’t come after you’ve said something, it comes after the translator has finished translating what you’ve just said. And you can’t carry on until they had the chance to respond!
Each meeting I or Andy would preach on a different text from the Bible. Regardless of the text, it would always lead (quite naturally) into a few key themes that we both felt God had laid on our heart for the people here.
Who Jesus was and why that matters
The identity of God and of his Son Jesus is a key point to understand, especially in a culture so dominated by Islamic beliefs (which on the subject of Jesus are different to the Christian view).
Who we are (our identity) and why that’s important
Understanding who God says you are and having your identity rooted in Him, rather than the things of this world is one of the biggest issues we have in our culture, and Pakistan is no different.
The role and result of the Holy Spirit
It’s not about me, it’s about God working through me, by his Spirit. So when God saves people or heals people through me – it’s not because of me. It’s because of Him, and he can use you in the same way.
After we would speak we would allow time for people to respond to God for themselves, to commit their lives to Christ if they haven’t already done so. This was a big challenge in this environment, with the level of understanding people already held and with the translation issues. The audience contained mainly people who associate with the label “Christian”. It’s very similar to how the UK was 30/40 years ago in terms of people associating with a label of “Christian” without necessarily believing or understanding fully in what that would be.
This meant we had a larger response to people committing their lives to Christ that perhaps we would have expected. This, of course, isn’t a bad thing! As we progressed through the week we tried to be more and more specific in evening meetings with what we were asking. Affirming that people who had already committed their lives to God didn’t need to do it again. Strangely this increased the responses we got, rather than decreasing it! I think the reason we may have had so many responses is for one of three reasons:
- Translation. I trust that the words we spoke were translated correctly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were understood in way they were intended
- Revelation. I believe some people who associated with that label of Christian were given a new understanding of what it means to be a Christian. With this new understanding, they felt the need to affirm something they had always thought they were. But now they were making a decision to actually commit to it.
- Salvation. We believe that God spoke to many people who genuinely responded for the first time. We had many kids raise their hands in response as well as many adults.
I talk in more detail at how we measured and grouped those responses in my post on ‘Salvation vs. Response’ (coming soon).
What’s been your experience of ministering in different cultures? Let me know in the comments!