Area Studies

What can we learn by comparing practices and customs in different societies around the world?

Photo credit: Britt Reints - Flickr

Interpreters and Champions as “Inside” Agents

by Jim Harries

As a champion for the Luo people, I am aware of sensitive information that outside speakers are not able to know about. To Interpret or Not to Interpret African Customs to Westerners? Sometimes I agonize over what to say or not say. Sometimes I am with other Westerners in African contexts. Should I tell other Westerners when they do things wrong? Are there even wrong ways of doing things? Why should I care whether they say or do silly things? Who am I to speak to them?

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Management of Limb Bone Fractures by Traditional Doctors in Camaroon, Central Africa

by Ngaroua David, M.D.

English Abstract

In Camaroon, Central Africa, the practice of traditional medicine provides social and psychological benefits not available through modern medicine. However, it also poses risks due to the lack of medical training by the traditional healers. The general objective of this study was to evaluate the healthcare management of bone fractures by traditional doctors. Massage and immobilization constituted the most common forms of treatment. In the hospitals, we have noticed several cases of complications after traditional treatment of bone fractures. The author concludes that it is mandatory to put in place a legal framework for the practice of traditional medicine so as to limit the risks and to integrate the cultural benefits of traditional medicine into the health system of Cameroon.

Résumé en français

La médecine traditionnelle dans la ville de Bertoua et ses environs est très sollicitée par la population lors de la survenue des fractures. L’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) la définie comme étant «la somme totale des connaissances, compétences et pratiques qui reposent, rationnellement ou non, sur les théories, croyances et expériences propres à une culture et qui sont utilisées pour maintenir les êtres humains en santé ainsi que pour prévenir, diagnostiquer, traiter et guérir des maladies physiques et mentales». L’objectif général était d’évaluer la prise en charge des fractures par les médecins traditionnels.  La collecte de données a été faite dans ces localités suscitées pendant  quatre (4) mois. Nous avons obtenu un échantillon total de 111 parmi lesquels 19 médecins traditionnels. 59,8% des patients ont opté pour la médecine traditionnelle. Les fractures fermées (70,7%) sont majoritaire. Tous les médecins traditionnels ont reconnu avoir fait face à des complications. Les massages et immobilisations constituaient le mode de traitement les plus employés avec 84,2%. Il est donc impératif de mettre en place un cadre légal de l’exercice de cette médecine, et l’intégrer véritablement la médecine traditionnelle au système de santé camerounais.

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The Problem of Poverty in Metro Manila, Philippines

by Kumar Aryal

Corruption, lack of education, population growth, and natural disasters are the main causes of the persistent poverty in the Philippines. Evangelical Christians are visible in responding to poverty in the Philippines, but the majority of their programs and services meet immediate needs, which has the tendency to create dependency, instead of development, if continued over a long period of time. Evangelicals seem to have a very minimal partnership with the government, instead going directly to the poor to avoid a long government process, and not wanting government officials to pocket the money that should go to the poor. Compounding the inadequate evangelical response is that there seems to be a lack of collaboration among evangelical Christian churches and NGOs in responding to poverty in the Philippines.

This research shows that in addition to the four causes of poverty in Metro Manilla, there are four types of poverty. When economic, psychological, social, and spiritual poverty are addressed in an integrated manner, poor people will experience shalom, which is the goal of holistic development.

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A History of the Gospel and Violence in El Salvador, with Prospects for the Future

by Kenton Moody

El Salvador is one of the many countries in the world that is mourning due to lack of the peace of God. If the church is to be God’s agent of shalom for El Salvador and respond effectively to the gang violence, then it is important that it understand the origins of the problem. This article will summarize the historical significance of El Salvador’s violent past in relationship to the current problems as well as explain the emergence of the evangelical church. It will also describe the biblical plan of shalom and what the church’s responsibility should be to best fulfill God’s desire for the church to be God’s agent of shalom for the Salvadoran society.

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A History of the Gospel in Papua New Guinea: Factors in Faulty Discipleship

by Chris Brittain

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), biblical discipleship has been handicapped by the way the gospel was presented to the people by early missionaries. In the past it seemed rare for missionaries to be aware that they had interpreted the gospel through their own cultural lens and that there were serious distortions as a result. They assumed that their task was to get natives to abandon their heathen culture and exchange it for theirs. As a result, the church they planted was not a truly indigenous church because tribal peoples were discouraged from finding answers to their own questions that arose from their animistic worldview. Instead Bible teachers encouraged them to adopt the values and arbitrary customs of Westerners with regards to music, dress, worship patterns etc. As a result, there is a need for a “Missional Discipleship Movement (MDM)” within the church to help believers to discover for themselves what it means for the “Word to become flesh” in the PNG setting.

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African Traditional Beliefs and Development

by Chris Ampadu

The African lives in a religious universe. Religious tradition influences thoughts and actions, determining practically every aspect of life, including moral behavior. This essay concludes with the observation that African indigenous cultures and traditions have generally not promoted scientific inquiry or the development and adaptation of new technologies. Because African cultures tend to emphasize communalism, the people have a hard time accumulating enough wealth to build large enterprises.

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Peace in Africa: Essential Background for Development

by Abdou Maiga, May 03, 2018

In this article, the author reminds us that it is urgent that Africans realize that in time of war what people need most are not only humanitarian programs but also programs of peace and reconciliation. What are the challenges for this approach and what are the implications for humanitarian and developmental structures in Africa today?

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The Threat of Compassion in an East Asian and Diaspora Context

by by Megan Geem

Why do East-Asians and their descendants find grace so challenging to understand and accept? This paper hopes to provide one answer to this question through exploring the relationship between two biblical concepts: compassion and grace. Research suggests that the two are deeply and symbiotically interconnected. The former, if understood in accordance to its original Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) context, is meant to inform and lead into the latter. Compassion, as result, may be a key piece for which believers from East-Asian honor-shame cultures need help in comprehending and receiving, so that they can show grace to themselves as well as others.

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Holistic Transformational Development in East Africa through Surgical Care

by Dan Poenaru

My premise is that a health care ministry to children with disabilities and their families can—and should—be the springboard to holistic, transformational community development in low-resourced settings in Africa. I will develop this thesis by first examining the context in which it is proposed with its social, cultural, and spiritual aspects. I will then define the specific bio-psychosocial and spiritual challenges that need to be met, and propose an elaborate, if hypothetical, plan of action.

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Wiconi International: A Native North American Contextual Movement in Christ

by Namarr Newson

The perspective of this article involves contextualization necessary to share the Gospel with North American Indians within their own cultural context to negate an enduring custom of ridding them from their cultural values in order to become Christians. This customary practice of Christian mission towards these people has discouraged them from following Christ or else to follow Christ at the expense of disregarding their own tribal culture.

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Reflection: Why Is Africa Poor? A Whiteboard Animation

by Chris Ampadu

The Whiteboard Animation in this Reflection is based on Chris Ampadu’s WCIU dissertation.

Why is Africa poor, given all its natural resources: gold, diamonds, oil, timber?
View a Whiteboard Animation in this Reflection that addresses this question.

Africa’s problems are like a tree with spoiled fruits.
Africa’s problems have roots in worldview issues
Believing LIES impoverishes and enslaves people.
Strong biblical roots will produce good fruits (truth, honesty, self-control, trustworthiness)

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