Saturday, November 30, 2013

How to Gain Respect from People of Other Cultures

Years ago, a well-respected and well-known person in his own country was assigned as interim mission leader in another. Even if this person was well-respected in his own, he was not immediately respected when he moved to that particular country. Those who knew him, respected him but those who don't know him didn't. It's simple, it takes time to know the person. He has to prove himself first and earn the national's respect and trust. Unfortunately, he made drastic decisions that jeopardized the national's respect towards him. 

You might say, "I don' t mind being disrespected" or "I don' t mind if people do not respect me, not a big deal." It may not be a big deal, but if you want to be effective in getting the gospel message across, gaining respect is one key to unlock the door of effective communication.

7 Tips on Earning the Respect of People from Other Culture
Are you contemplating to serve in other culture or are you already in one? The clarity of your call does not negate the necessity of learning the culture of people you are called to serve.

1. Understand that Respect is a Earned
It is a hard fact that trust and respect must be earned. You already knew this but it is easier said than done. Just because you are well-respected in your own country does not mean you will be respected immediately when you go to another. Respect is not transferable; it is earned.

Because it takes time to build trust, it takes time to earn respect. Respect is process and it comes after trust is gained. If the people know they can trust you, you have gained their respect. 

2. Be a Servant; bury the boss within
I've seen arrogance and superiority. Don' t be bossy; serve them and you will be served! This is the essence of incarnational attitude-out of your comfort zone, go out and serve. People like to be lead but not to be controlled. Lead them with a servant heart. There's nothing wrong if you come alongside the locals; better yet to be lead by them! If you are not ready for this, you are not ready for cross-cultural ministry! Of course, situation varies--you lead them or they lead you or you come alongside them, but the application of the spirit of servanthood remains the same in every culture.

3. Touch the Local's Heart Before Implementing Change
If you are in leadership, sooner or later you would be compelled to make some changes. Some people adamantly resist change, others do not. Here is a key that will be helpful, before you implement a change, touch the people's heart first. Remember what John Maxwell always say, "Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand." Before you even ask the people to agree with you or to come aboard with you, you must touch their heart. There will always be people who do not want change, but if you touch enough people, chances are those who oppose fade sooner or latter.

4. Listen to People and Learn their Culture
Sometimes we have to listen to God even if it costs our relationship with people. At times, we have to stand for what we believe and what is right regardless of the consequences. It is important to listen to God first and His voice overrides all other voices.

While listening to God is essential, I must warn you; don't get caught with the attitude that you have a direct line to God and others don't. Sometimes leaders think that God speaks only to them and He does not speak to their followers. Because of this attitude of have a "direct line to God" and that people don't have same line, some leaders do not listen to people enough. Sometimes, we may miss interpret the voice are hearing.  We may think it is God's but it is actually our own. How do you know it was God speaking? This would be another piece to write.

It is important to listen to God but God speaks to you through people as well. As I type this, I immediately recall the decision King Rehoboam made when he came to power after the death of his father, Solomon.  He did not have direct line to God. He didn't even consult God. He heard two voices; which one is the best? His decision was based on what his young advisers told him. His decision tore up his Kingdom!

Learning the culture is difficult and there is no easy road. Although you can learn from reading and listening, nothing can take the place of knowing the language. If you cannot speak the language, find other ways to become student of the culture and live like the locals.

5. Give up your Own Perspective
Learn that it's not about you, it's about them and God. You came to serve and minister to them, right? People do not care your know-how and know-it-all attitude until they knew you care enough. Do not go to the mission field like you have all the answer to people's questions and needs.

If you are willing to give up your physical comfort in your own country, be ready to give up your perspective and opinion when you move to the mission field.Giving up things is easier than giving up your perspective and worldview. I find it ironic when missionaries are willing to sacrifice things in their own country, move to the mission field but do not want to lay down their own perspective. They are willing to die for things that are not worth dying for. They may think what they are fighting for is biblical but in it isn't; only western mindset!

6. Try to Live Like the Locals
This is difficult when you consider the risk of getting sick or even death because you force yourself to live like them. A missionary once told me, "If I have to get sick to be a missionary, then I am not a missionary." I understand the point he was trying to communicate. Sure there is no need to risk your health for the long haul, but if you are too careful you will miss some opportunities. For fear of getting diarrhea or getting sick,  I try to avoid drinking tea they serve whenever I visit the rural areas. I was told that water come from the pond and I was afraid I will caught bacteria. This happened in my early years. Today, I drink tea anywhere without fear.

An intern came to Cambodia and whenever he visits the villages, he eats the local food, sleep like the locals. Even if he does not speak the language, he speak the language of "living like the locals". Sure enough, he got sick several times. But what happened when the locals saw him live them? He gained their respect instantly, others couldn't earn in years.He was admire not because of what he brings but because of how he live.

7. Be Humble and Never Stop Learning
During my 12 years of living in another culture, I have made many mistakes but I also learned many lessons I would never have learned otherwise. I am not expert in cross-cultural ministry, but I am a student of the culture and never ceased learning since.

Humility sums all seven tips; live it! When you move into a culture different from yours, the feeling of superiority can be very hard to overcome. The best antidote to superiority is humility. Yet, humility is easier defined than practiced. Humility is seen by your attitude and lifestyle. One surefire sign of humility is admitting your mistake when you make one. Your are not infallible and therefore your decisions are not infallible. The more you admit your mistakes the greater the respect you gain.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Copyright Notice on my Youtube Video

Last month I blogged about the copyright notice I received for the song For Those Tears I Died I uploaded on Youtube. One month after I disputed the Copyright notice, the claimant reinstated the copyright notice. 

I wanted to appeal, but when I click "Appeal" this one came up....

Because I don't want to lose my YouTube account, I am taking down the video. No a big deal! I will try to sing and upload it again.

Click this link to watch another recording of the song:  For Those Tears I died

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Is Adam The First Human?

Photo Credit: Yahoo News
According to the Bible in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, God created Adam and Eve following the creation of the universe. This is the reason Bible interpreters believe that Adam and Eve were the first humans ever existed. However, because of Genesis chapter 1 verse 2, some Bible scholars argue that there are million years gap between Genesis 1: 1 and 1: 2. To reconcile science and the Bible some introduces the pre-Adamic world. Pre-Adamic theory teaches that there were humans before Adam. Lucifer also reigned with God before his fall and became Satan. It was during this time that dinosaur existed. The creative order in Genesis 1 verse 2 and following was the restoration of the earth, after the fall of Lucifer.

While the Bible does not tell about pre-Adamic world,  according to scientists, anatomically modern humans first arose about 200, 000 ago in Africa. Earlier Today, Yahoo News published an article about a 10, 000-year-old house discovered in Israel. According to best estimate, Adam, the first human being created mentioned in Genesis existed about 4,000 BC. If this archaeological discovery is true, a simple math reveals that Adam could have not been the first human being that ever walked upon the surface of the earth. 

Or could it be that the genealogies were misinterpreted? Could it be that Adam and Eve lived 20,000 or more years ago? Does archaeological discovery of the earliest human indeed prove the theory of pre-Adamic world? What if the dating techniques surrounding human remains and genetic data interpretation were inaccurate? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chuck Roost Tells a Story on How Planting Tomatoes Built a Church in Uganda

Dr. Chuck Roost, Founder of International Steward, speaks in a rural church in Cambodia (August 2010)
After going through my old video files yesterday, I found a video clip I've taken when Dr. Chuck Roost visited Cambodia in August 2010. 

Who is Dr. Chuck Roost? Here is a brief description about Chuck from the International Steward's website. "The founder and visionary behind International Steward, Chuck has served International Steward faithfully and passionately since the organization was founded in 1999. His retirement was announced in May of 2013, at which that point he moved into a new role as Founder Emeritus. This honorary position reflects the appreciation and recognition by the Board of Directors for Chuck's vision in establishing this ministry. Chuck is a highly skilled teacher, writer, and pastor, and his passion for stewardship and sustainability defines his legacy at International Steward."

Although the video below was taken in 2010, Chuck has been coming to Cambodia since 1995 and his recent trip here was last week.

The video was taken in a small rural Church in Kampong Chnang province. In this video, Dr. Chuck Roost tells a story of poor believers in Uganda who thought they have nothing to give but were able to build a church by planting tomatoes and donating the sales to the church. 

It is a powerful story that challenges church members not only in the area of giving but on stewardship as a whole. Watch this video below to listen on the rest of the story. Pastor Tor Rasmey did the translation. 

Chuck Roost, Founder Emeritus of International Steward conduct workshop in Cambodia on Nov 14-16, 2013 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How To Learn To Ride A Bicycle for Adults

Five Proven Practical Steps How You Can Learn to Ride a Bike in Few Minutes
Greg B. Fernandez Jr.

If you know how to cycle, this article is nonsense; if you don't it is essential. About two months ago, against all odds, I learned how to cycle. My first try was 10 years ago but failed. After 10 years I tried again, and this time I succeeded. You can imagine how proud I was when I had my first cycle around Phnom Penh, the Cambodia's Capital!

The saying, "You cannot teach an old dog new tricks" is a myth. Of course you can. It may be harder and requires more focus, courage and determination. I don't believe older people cannot learn new things. Learning to ride a bicycle, for example, when you are over 42 years old is not as difficult as you thought it would be. I learn how to ride a bicycle at age 42. So I know it is possible to learn new things despite your age. 

The most important in learning how to ride a bicycle is pedaling and balancing. Once you learn how to pedal and balance, you learn the basics of cycling.

Answer this QUESTION first: How Bad Do You Really Want to Learn?
Before you jump to read the 5 steps below, answer this question first. Do you really really want to learn how to cycle? How bad do you want? If you are hungry enough, you will learn how to do things.  You can learn almost anything if really want to.

1. Practice on a Smaller Bicycle
Buy a smaller bike; low enough so you can plant both of your feet on the ground. Rent or borrow but buying your own is better. This way, you are free to wreck your own without having to worry about the borrowed item.  

At the beginning stage, I suggest that you practice on a small bike. Just plant your foot/feet whenever something goes wrong and you don't need to worry about falling. 

2. Practice Alone
You are old enough and don't need someone to tell you what to do every time you make mistakes. Practicing alone is a lot better than have someone telling you what to do. Get the info that you need, then do it yourself. It worked for me.

3. Practice on a Quite Road/Field
You need enough space to practice without being interrupted. You need spacious area because you must keep moving because when the momentum stops you will fall. 

4. Practice When No One is Looking
Learning how to cycle can be humiliating for an adult. When everyone knows how to ride a bike, especially small children, except you, handling embarrassment can be pretty challenging. This is the reason other's don't even want to try. Try to practice at night or early morning. If you practice at night or early morning, you are free to make mistakes without worrying about being embarrassed. If you can commit to this, you are one step closer to your cycling success.

5. Practice with Courage, Determination and Commitment
It takes courage to start and takes determination and commitment to keep the fire going. If you didn't get on the first try, don't give up! Keep trying. Although you can learn how to ride a bicycle in few minutes, to really master it, you need to keep doing it.

Now that you finished reading this, go and do it. You can only learn how to cycle by doing it, not by knowing the "how to" and reading practical guidelines. If I could do it you can also do it. Congratulate yourself because you are now one step closer!