Probably one of the biggest discoveries for me is the difference between truth and culture. When your team consists of Americans, Indians, Burmese and Nepalese, you must be able to not only listen, but to hear what is being communicated. I recently had a real breakdown of communication between me and another American who was very hurt by a comment I made summarizing something we had agreed to long ago. We can not communicate no much with each other!
The universal truth that is taught throughout the Bible transcends all cultures and boundaries. How you apply that truth is the key. And the understanding or interpretation of a situation of an Indian can be vastly different from a Nepali. Assumptions can kill your ministry.
But when you are have a foundation that begins with Jesus Christ, you can overcome all differences and work towards solutions. That is why it is critical that we do not do anything without the direction and approval of our local leaders. The more remote the area we are involved in, the more we have to rely on the local leadership to guide us.
We have also learned that we have the most long-lasting impact when our work is done under the authority of our local partners. We are not hiding from the people, but we will never take center stage. It is all about developing leadership that will duplicate.
As a result, we are seeing more success, because we are enhancing the work of the those in the trenches and not coming in as "experts" here to fix their problems. We are not fixing anything, but rather helping advance those already called by God.
I had a comment made to me by some blogger reminding me that it is illegal to convert people to Christianity in Nepal. I could add that it is the same in most every state in India and a ton of other countries around the world.
For the record, we do not "convert" anyone. No one can. People are free to respond to their Creator who is actively pursuing them, but we have never converted anyone. We are simply training other Christians how to understand for themselves, the truth that has been provided to all in the Bible. That is our calling. The local people lead, love and serve their local people. We help them do it better.
Over the past two weeks we made some major breakthroughs with our material that we have been assembling for the past decade that will revolutionize our program. It is also something that can be taught with very little training and duplicated anywhere in the world. So there is a lot of work ahead of us to put it all together and I would appreciate your prayers in this.
Thank you for your love, prayers and support. I am very excited about our future and the work God is leading us towards.
In Christ - Jeff