Bridging the Cultural Gap
Rhena has a three-way identity: Zambian, Asian and British (Western). Rather than feeling trapped between worlds, she keeps her true identity rooted in Christ and uses her rich cultural heritage to easily bridge the gaps between cultures. This is the essence that allows Rhena to share the Gospel interculturally. She believes “that all people are created in the image of God, that He gave them life and [the fact] that He loves them was affirmed.”
Rhena chose to attend the Asia Gateway Training (AGT) in 2019, which was held at the Seminari Theology Malaysia, because she felt the need to “learn and unlearn things” after ten years in the mission field. During her time there, she grasped that change must come into effect for the gospel to take root.
“If the gospel is going to truly transform people then their worldview must change. This is where true change lies otherwise it remains at a superficial level and will not weather the storms of life,” Rhena says.
She also received training concerning culture and traditions, especially among new believers: “We do not have to completely put aside traditions and customs when we become followers of Christ but we must be able to use Scripture to make wise decisions as to what we are able to keep and what must be discarded because it goes against kingdom values,” she says.
Rhena said being part of AGT this year also allowed her to see a crucial truth. “The mission that we are a part of is <em>God's</em> mission, not mine or that of my organization. It’s His Initiative and I must in obedience to His call, do my part! We, as the worldwide body of Christ must work in partnership, the east in partnership with the west,” Rhena added.
Being involved in a church plant in a large Asian city, Rhena says the western perspective is very strong, and the desire to be ‘western’ is prevalent. She believes there are great richness and depth to be unlocked if local churches try to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in our local context. “Urban,” she says, “does not necessarily mean western - it's being the best we can be, by allowing God to teach and train us through His word, His Spirit and His Son,” she says.
“If we as a community of believers, living in a pluralistic society cannot build deep friendships with people of other faiths how then do we share the gospel and love of Christ? We must approach this from commonality, rather than anything that divides. It is critical that we leave our holy huddles and teach our churches to reach out hands in friendship, love and service,” Rhena says.