The second lesson that I learned out in the “BUSH” of Zambia is this: Cultural shock works two ways. Some of the things we do are as much a shock to the Africans as. . .some of the things they do in their lifestyle [are to us]. Back in the late 50’s we spent some time in a place that was operated for the purpose of rejuvenating those who have gone out into the “third-world” nations and had fallen flat on their faces because of their inability to adapt themselves to the lifestyle, the CULTURAL SHOCK of the host nation.
The natives usually live a far less regimented life than we do. And they don’t have many of the amenities for living which we take so much for granted. The manner in which they relate as members of the family are often totally different from ours, and often our form of relationships [is] a shock – even an embarrassment – to them. Our physical contact between the sexes in public, such as holding hands or putting an arm around the other’s shoulder as we walk along, is foreign to them. Etc.
And so, for me to see how we are always seeking to change the other person instead of being willing to change ourselves. . .came into sharp focus as a demonstration of our selfishness and pride. remember the post-war phrase, “The Ugly American“? That’s where it came from! But in the realm of the matters of the Spirit, we must come to see that the Africans or the Asians or whomever, Christ is their brother too; so we are brothers and sisters with [them].
After the conferences, we led a retreat for missionaries and English-speaking Zambians who had come into leadership positions in the native churches, both urban and rural. It was here that I observed the blending into ONE of at least two races of people, just the way I believe God is calling us ALL to practice. Walls of tradition, position, language, and color had disintegrated in the LOVE OF JESUS, as all of us came into the flow of the Spirit of God. They had truly become a “Peculiar People”!
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Number 39, June 1984.