I’ve been in Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo) teaching a course to 23 students, both pastors and lay persons. What a city this is! They say that 150 non-governmental organizations (charities) have set-up shop in this dusty town that lies in the shadow of active volcanoes. As my driver has shuttled me back-and-forth to class over the bumpy roads, I’ve often wondered how my life would have been different if I was born here instead of the United States.
Though I’ve lived in Africa at various times – cumulatively for 12 years – I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about this amazing continent. First of all, there is no such thing as “African culture.” Africa is a big place, and sub-Saharan Africa has many cultures.
In Paul Hiebert’s book, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries, he outlines 14 characteristics of a Western missionary’s worldview. These formed the basis for one of my class lectures. Since turn-about is fair play – and effective adult education – I gave my Congolese students a homework assignment. “Imagine” I said “that you were sent as a missionary to Brooklyn, New York. Make a list of five characteristics about Congolese culture where you live that these Americans would need to know about you.