Re-crafting the material for an overseas audience has been most interesting. Most of the metaphors used here for our own culture have been completely off the mark for third world countries.
For instance, one of the pictures we paint (imagine with me) here in Canada is that of a small frog on a lily pad. The frog looks content enough but zoomed in we cannot see much of the frog’s context.
So we zoom our lens out and get and see a bit more about the frog’s surroundings. We see that there is a lot of other lily pads, and much more activity going on around the frog than our first picture.
If we zoom out again we see that frog’s world is in fact very large. So large in fact that frog may not have even explored to the edges of this world. There is much for frog to do, much to see.
And then we zoom out one last time, and lo and behold frog lives in a beautiful garden of luxuriant foliage, beautiful water features and unexplored paths. It is stunning and so much more than frog can most likely even imagine.
I tell this story to bring to life that here in North America we have made our worlds very small, when in fact the world is very big. We stay within our nice little lives when in fact there is a much bigger world waiting for us, that is not scary, but rather beautiful and vibrant – if we will just trust God to take us beyond our safety zone.
Well writing this story for our overseas colleagues doesn’t work. I tried. I have a nice little picture of a lizard on a rock from one of my trips, and so I thought I could write the same progression from focussed in life to big picture living.
But it doesn’t work, and isn’t even culturally relevant. For starters, we zoom out from the African lizard on the rock and we do not get nicer, we get more barren. Consider zooming out and out and out in Kenya’s dry grasslands and the picture does not gain in complexity but actually increases in dry and dusty. The metaphor doesn’t work.
In the rewriting of the material I realized that not only does the picture not work, but that the people themselves need something completely different.
The Pastors and Evangelists that I have met have a very good idea of the world as a big place. And they are forging forward into the very big world quite successfully. There is a resilience to go out of the their comfort zone that seems quite normal in Africa.
So I switched the metaphor. I began with a zoomed out view of many, many people, and then began focusing in. Bit by bit, taking in country, and towns and villages, and then finally family down to one person.
While in North America we need God to prick our consciences about the bigger world, in Africa they need to know that God loves them intimately and personally. The lesson is, God loves you. God forgives you. God knows you and has called you to himself.
This is just one example of the many changes I’ve had to make to the Walking in Spiritual Authority course – but changes we are glad to make in service to our overseas colleagues.
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