We might think it is just foreigners who do not understand the Dong people, their customs, way of life, and worldview. Really, though, the Chinese Three Self church is pretty clueless too. And while we are at it, the Chinese house churches seem to not be much better.
When the Dong church needs teaching, who is going to give it to them? Can materials and teaching methods be brought in from outside and applied to the Dong. Maybe, maybe not, but who is to say? How do we even know when what is taught really applies to the Dong life. Or better yet, starting by looking at the need instead of whether our answers fit their need, who can say what specific teachings the Dong culture most needs to hear?
Lots of questions, but not so many answers, huh? Basically, the answer is we need people on the ground. It does not matter much if they are Chinese nationals or foreigners. The real need is for culturally sensitive folks who are willing to dig into the Dong way of thinking and the Dong way of life. Those folks will be able to pinpoint teaching that will "scratch where the Dong people itch".
We have mentioned this topic before. Teaching needs to take into consideration the needs of the listeners. Telling the Dong to not worship their ancestors with no thought of what kinds of repercussions that will have and how important that is in Dong culture is just not going to stick. The lesson still needs to be taught, but a one sentence denunciation will be ignored. An in depth Bible study, specifically addressing their needs is exactly what they need.
The Dong are widely known as lovers of rice wine. We do not need to proclaim some ultra-conservative, American pet theology that they need to stop drinking. The Christians need to interact with Scripture. Scripture has the ultimate authority, but they just do not know where to look and what to think. So, they continue to be confused by the different witnesses of the foreigners and Chinese Christians.
We need to pray for the Christians who have interaction with the Dong people. May they be spiritually aware of where the Dong people are, what they need, and how to teach. Also pray that more Christians, Han or foreign, will dig into the Dong way of life to understand who they are and how they work, and teach the Word of God in a way that makes sense to the Dong people.
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