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Explaining the Gospel to Honor/Shame Cultures

 

In the EveryInternational videos we have discussed the three primary world-views: fear-power, guilt-innocence and honor-shame. These are major cultural operating systems around the world. In fear-power cultures, people are constantly thinking about power dynamics. How can my power be increased? What people, living or dead, must I be close to to increase my power–financially, socially, and spiritually? There is persistent fear about offending a powerful leader, ancestor or god. Fear says, “I am weak, so I should acquire power or align with powerful people before I get hurt.” This world view is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin American. Guilt-innocence cultures tend to stem from areas impacted by the Greco-Roman worldview and the Protestant Reformation. Some people prefer to call this the guilt-merit view. This operating system, prevalent in Europe and North America, tends to view things from the perspective of a courtroom. It is especially prominent in individualistic cultures. Guilt says “I did wrong, so I should confess and make restitution before I get punished.” Guilt is alleviated through acknowledgement or punishment. In collectivistic cultures, however, behavior is often regulated by honor and shame. The main motivator in relationships is avoiding disgrace and maintaining harmony. Life is viewed from attaining honor for one’s community. Honor-shame is especially prevalent in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In fact 65% of the world’s population and 90% of the unreached people groups are in honor-shame contexts. In these cultures people feel shame when they violate the community’s expectations. Shame says, “I did something dishonorable, so I should cover or hide it before I get exposed.” Shame is removed by other people. The person shamed can be restored by someone with more honor to be re-incorporated into the community. As someone who grew up in North America and has lived in East Asia and Western Europe, I have seen all three worldviews at work. Cultures are dynamic and, thus, they are not limited to any one of these. In fact, all three are at work in people and cultures to different extents. Please note that none of these are “right” or “wrong”. Those in guilt-innocence cultures tend to view this view as the “right” view or the view that believes in absolute truth. The near Eastern culture of the Bible was far more an honor-shame culture than the guilt-innocence culture that we have in North America today. For more information on this topic, I recommend the website honorshame.com and the work of Jayson Georges, Jackson Wu, David deSilva, Werner Mischke, and Chris Flanders. In fact, much of the ideas in this video are from one of these authors or from the honorshame.com website. When it comes to gospel presentations, many have been written from the guilt-innocence perspective. In 2017 a global team from Cru set about to create a digital evangelistic tool from an honor-shame perspective. The result was Honor Restored, which is available in the GodTools app. Honor Restored is available in 24 languages, including Mandarin, Farsi, Hindi, Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, and French. Other translations are underway. You can get it for free Apple’s App store or the Google Play store. After downloading GodTools, you can add Honor Restored. By touching the information circle you can see the various language options. Go back to the GodTools homescreen and touch on the language icon in the top right corner to add. Let’s add Hindi, the main language of India. Now within Honor Restored English and Hindi will both be available. The first screen, which is purple, has cards at the bottom labeled honor and shame. Once you touch here it pulls up a screen that uses words associated with shame: isolated, rejected, polluted, excluded and abandoned. Swipe up and you will see an image and words associated with honor: included, accepted, exalted, cleanses, and cherished. Hopefully these words and questions will help the person you are talking with to begin to consider and even feel the weight of these concepts. To get to the next screen you can either swipe left or touch the arrow at the bottom of the screen. The next 5 screens cover an introduction and summary of the gospel. 1- The beginning (green screen), 2-the problem (grey screen), 3-the solution (red screen), 4-our response (blue screen), and 5-the result (purple screen). Each screen has cards you can touch at the bottom with elaborates on the heading with a short Bible passage from the New International Reader’s Version (NIRV). I suggest reading the card to your friend in English and having them read it in their native language. You can either read the heading in English and have them read each card in their native language OR read each heading and card in both English and their native tongue, if it’s available. There is something uniquely powerful when they read words of Scripture in their first language. At the bottom of each page screen after the last card is a transition question. So, for the green screen, it asks: “If God created a good world, why does it feel so broken?” These transitions questions were designed to help the conversation flow as naturally as possible. Try to make this as conversational as possible. The best gospel presentations are dialogues not monologues. We suggest on each screen asking them to comment and reflect on the images. How do the images make them feel? What stands out? On the blue screen on of the cards is labeled “The choice”. Please don’t miss this page. The designers really wanted this page to lead the person to a chance to make a decision if they want to trust Jesus to bear their shame. The next screen or card is a prayer that they can pray or you can pray with them. Another thing you can do is to ask your friend to read the tract in their native language and give feedback on the translation. If they recommend improvements, you can email the Honor Restored team at [email protected]. Please email that same address if you have suggestions on improving the tool OR for additional translations.

Explaining the Gospel to Honor/Shame Cultures

Chris

Cultures in Asia, Africa and the Middle East primarily operate from an Honor-Shame perspective. Yet our most common evangelism tools are based on a Western, Guilt-Innocence mindset. Learn from Chris about the Honor Restored digital tool to help you bring the gospel to people from shame-based countries.

Cultures in Asia, Africa and the Middle East primarily operate from an Honor-Shame perspective. Yet our most common evangelism tools are based on a Western, Guilt-Innocence mindset. Learn from Chris about the Honor Restored digital tool to help you bring the gospel to people from shame-based countries.

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