Saturday, April 16, 2011

Who’s Your Donkey?

We have all heard of how easy misunderstanding can happen in cross cultural events. Sometimes gestures can mean one thing in one country and entirely different in another (sometimes very embarrassing differences!)

This past fall I got to experience a new culture as I traveled to India to teach in a pastor’s training school. I got to experience what I can best be describe as the “Indian head wobble.” Now in America a head wobble means either uncertainty or a response of “so-so” but in India it means OK, yes or I understand.

While I had heard of it prior to the trip I experienced it first hand while going through a variety of security check points. Imagine my uncertainty as an Indian solider looked over my visa and passport and gave me a non verbal response of a “wobble.” I stood petrified like a Medusian statue uncertain if I should move to the next line or not.

During the class session imagine my concerns when asking if they understood a concept and received dozens of “wobbles!”

Now imagine my further chagrin when following a Q&A session I learned that I had blown off a question because I misunderstood the significance of the implications in the Indian culture!

I was asked the meaning of the donkey in the triumphal entry story in Luke and had answered that sometimes a donkey was just a donkey. (How Freudian of me!) You see in India animals are held in different esteem then in the United States. During a break my translator explained some of the significance to me and I insisted that at the beginning of the next session I apology to the class and ask my translator & good friend Naveem (pictured with me) to address the question.

You see even thought the caste situation in India is changing many people groups still feel the effects of being considered inferior. The donkey was a beast of burden that needed to be released and brought to Jesus. In India there are many people who are considered little more than beasts of burden that need to be released by someone and brought to Jesus. These believers were being challenged to seek out those who were still in bondage to the old ways and release them from their burdens and bring them to Jesus.

That day in class Naveem asked them “who is your donkey?” Who is it that Jesus needs you to go and in Jesus’ name release from their bondage and bring them to Jesus?

This Palm Sunday that’s my question to each of us – “Who’s your donkey?”

Have a great and awesome Triumphal Sunday!

Pastor Val

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