Peter Abungu, founder of Swahiba Youth Networks in Kenya, acknowledges that working with Americans presents its own set of challenges. In this Simply 127 episode, he and Sara Beth Fentress discuss the Western tendency to offer solutions before fully understanding the need. Americans prize critical thinking and assertive problem solving, but these values can be to our detriment when entering a new culture. It takes far more than a few trips to Kenya to understand the complexity of the challenges facing Swahiba, and ministry requires the humility to serve when we don’t understand the whole picture. 127 Worldwide champions mutually-edifying relationships as a valuable tool for advancing the gospel forward when we’re limited by culture, distance, and language. We consider and learn from the experience and wisdom of our local leaders as we co-labor together with a posture of humility and grace.
- In American culture, critical thinking is often valued more highly than respect for the opinions of those in higher positions of honor and authority. How do you think this Western value could cause problems in a cross-cultural relationship? In what ways could you use this difference in cultural values to strengthen a mutually-edifying relationship while avoiding conflict and misunderstanding?
- Peter mentions in the podcast that one of the most frustrating parts of working with Americans is that they often behave as if they “know better” than the locals. Can you think of a time when you felt sure that you knew better than somebody from a different culture when it came to a particular issue or manner of doing something? How do you think this pride would prevent mutually-edifying relationships?