My Money, My Language

My Money. My Language.

 

If there were no ‘cultural / linguistic differences’ with people being reached in mission, it would not matter if one ignored objections to one’s agenda by ‘buying’ them, or any differences in language impact that arise in the course of translation.

 

Incredibly, numerous scholars of mission have been blind to the fact that the means they use to ‘cross cultures’ (fund your own project and use your own language) can conceal the very gaps they seek to bridge. Recipients realising that it is in their interests to use the foreign language in the way the foreigner uses it (not to do so is to abuse it) and to comply with the conditions set by those bringing the project (not to do so may curtail funding), leave cultural differences concealed. When they emerge the outcome of such differences tend to ‘explode’ (sometimes devastatingly) onto the scene as if from nowhere!

 

Working ‘cross-culturally’ using one’s own language and funding one’s own project results in the construction ‘overseas’ of structures resembling those ‘at home’, that indigenous people are happy to ‘serve’ for the sake of material reward (or even, in due course, survival) but that no more ‘belong to them’ than a shepherd is the property of sheep.

 

There is little hope for the foreign Christian mission enterprise (or that of overseas development) if it continues to rely on such spurious foundations. It is time for Western missionaries overseas to seek to build on ‘local’ resources using ‘local’ languages – so says the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission (www.vulnerablemission.org) that is to hold conferences in the USA and Europe in 2009.

 

Jim

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