WCIUjournal
Copy of CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION

Cross-Cultural Communication

What difficulties in communication do cross-cultural workers face? How can these best be addressed in various settings?

Tsunami (the English Version)

by Anne Thiessen

(This article was originally published in Spanish.)

Native speakers of minority languages experience increasing pressure to abandon their languages and adopt the dominant trade language. Such pressure places the world’s minority languages under threat of extinction. This article explores the responsibility that cross-cultural workers have to value and learn minority languages, to recognize their own role in the displacement of these languages, and to offer help to indigenous communities in maintaining their languages through stable bilingualism. The author proposes ways that sending agencies can support cross-cultural workers in learning and championing minority languages.

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Materiality and “Spirits”: Explaining Exorcism in Africa

by Jim Harries

A case study considering the use of the term “spirit” in Western English (that is misappropriated into African discourse) graphically illustrates errors being made when considering deliverance ministries in African Christian churches. There is an urgent need to overcome linguistic naivety and secular hegemony in this regard. Careful exploration of the literature on gift-giving, in light of African people’s affinity for ministries of exorcism, reveals the means by which “material” and “spiritual” are, in Africa, not mutually exclusive.

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Tsunami (a Spanish Language Article)

by Anne Thiessen

Native speakers of minority languages experience increasing pressure to abandon their languages and adopt the dominant trade language. Such pressure places the world’s minority languages under threat of extinction. This article explores the responsibility that cross-cultural workers have to value and learn minority languages, to recognize their own role in the displacement of these languages, and to offer help to indigenous communities in maintaining their languages through stable bilingualism.

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Negotiating Conflict: A Case Study Utilizing Face-Negotiation Theory in a Senegalese Context

by Brett Molter

Navigating conflict in light of varying intercultural communication experiences is a learned skill and looks very different depending upon the context in which it is manifested. A growing body of research has emerged concerning how individuals manage and negotiate conflict, including face-negotiation theory (“saving face”) to help explain and work through interpersonal conflicts.

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The Reply of African Ethnicist-nationalism to the Overwhelming Mega-culture of Globalization

by Adder Abel Gwoda, Ph. D.

From a cultural point of view, a universal uniformity is emerging which absorbs or dissolves any differences. Under the booster of neoliberal economics, globalization attempts to homogenize different identities following the Western model, resulting in tremendous reactions from endangered cultures. These reactions of identities are of two kinds: the zealot, which is belligerent and can turn into terrorism and the Herodian, which is essentially pacifist and adaptive. A phenomenological analysis of authentic African cultural experience presents an ethnicist acculturation attempt in a bid to diminish the mega-culture of Globalization. This identity reaction which is rather adaptive, known as ethnicist-nationalism, will appear as a valuable contribution to the global justice project in so far as it provides a cosmopolitan flexible citizenship, built out of the postures of sentimental-nationalism and instrumental-globalization.

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Opinion: Writing-Illiteracy amongst Pastors in East Africa

by Jim Harries

When a European language is used in East Africa for making decisions and setting courses of action, the ability to communicate in that language will be hampered by its rootage in non-indigenous contexts. The author suggests this is severely limiting to healthy indigenously-rooted growth of African Christianity.

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Evaluating Hiebert’s Hunch - Is Lack of Phenomenological Knowledge the Weakest Link in “Critical Contextualization”?:  the Case of the Mende People of Sierra Leone, West Africa

by Dave Datema

Paul Hiebert championed “critical contextualization” and identified phenomenology (“exegeting humans”) as the weakest link in its practice that often led to split-level Christianity. In this paper I evaluate this assessment by locating the practice of critical contextualization among the Mende people of Sierra Leone, West Africa. I show how split-level Christianity took place there historically, examine phenomenological data to better understand Mende culture and ponder contemporary attempts of critical contextualization in Sierra Leone by Sierra Leoneans - all to support my thesis that critical contextualization is not so much a knowledge problem as it is a control problem. Cross-cultural missionaries will never have enough local knowledge to be the best contextualizers and until real control of contextualization is relinquished and given to nationals, critical contextualization will remain as a good idea rarely accomplished.

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Cultural Schemas Shape Identity and Influence Language

By Sheryl Silzer

When people receive the Scriptures in their language for the first time, they interpret the message through their previous knowledge and experiences. If the new information is not understandable in relation to what they already know, the Scriptures may not impact or change their lives. A major challenge for Bible translators coming from a scientific worldview is the ability to recognize how their scientific worldview may fit in and even promote the magical worldview of the receptor language speakers (Harries 2011, 18). Early missiologists linked this clash of worldview to a lack of applicability of the Gospel message (Hesselgrave 1978, 68; Kraft 1978, 94; Dye 1987, 39).

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Material Things in the Context of Relationships in the Non-Western World, Especially Africa.

by Jim Harries

Western thinking, shaped by years of compulsory education dominated by “Western dualism,” is preconditioned to view material reality as superior to spiritual, secondary understandings. Globalized education carries this materialistic approach far beyond the geographical boundaries of European peoples and their descendants’ “homelands” (i.e. North and South America, Australia, and so on). This thinking explains the nature of physical reality following “laws” of chemistry, physics, geography, maths, and to a lesser extent biology, history, physical education, business studies, and so on. The acceptability of infiltration of these concepts by individuals and communal societies does, however, differ according to levels of receptivity by the peoples concerned.

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Cognitive Science Points to God

By Jim Harries

Interpretation of use of the ladder symbol, then other examples, show how cognitive science aligns with theological analyses. Cognitive science and theology both claim a legitimate basis for approaching the material world through the human body and mind. Cognitive science, by following ‘correct’ understandings of God’s nature, undermines notions that objectivity formed the basis for the development of science. Western people’s extra-rational determination to hang-on to intellectually defunct Cartesian dualism explains much contemporary theological confusion. Global English use, and active countering of racism, undergird defunct philosophies in the West. Christian theology promotes human well-being. Image schemas designing user-interfaces demonstrate God’s obscurity.

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Cross-Cultural Conflict Management

by May Nor Clara Cheng

Interweaving with stories of her cross-cultural experiences in three countries, Cheng contends that the context of conflict management is the emotional wholeness of a cross-cultural worker. One of the two starting points of cross-cultural conflict management is self-awareness of the impact of one’s national character in their personality, especially in relevant to individualistic and collectivistic cultures. The other one is the understanding of the conflict dynamics and the issues in cross-cultural conflicts. For cross-cultural workers from an individualistic cultural background, the core lesson is to move their social life and conflict management from a self-centered orientation towards more of a communal life orientation.

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Who Decides and How? The Challenge of Decision-Making in Intercultural Ministry Teams

by Donald Moon

Members of intercultural teams bring with them their cultural preferences or biases about many things, including leadership styles and how decisions are made. Misunderstandings and conflict were nearly inevitable when team members operate, often unknowingly, from their cultural preferences.  Their different ideas about what they consider the correct way to make decisions is a key indicator of their cultural type.

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Book Review: African Heartbeat

by Editor

In his novel, African Heartbeat and a Vulnerable Fool, Jim Harries gives the Western reader an opportunity to vicariously experience an immersion in African culture with all its confusing reality. It is based on true stories and events, and takes place in the fictional African country of Holima.This book would be a good resource for prospective cross-cultural workers to help them be aware of what they are “going to meet up with” (p. 165).

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Book Review: Biblical Multi-cultural Teams

by Sunny Hong

This book was written to help members of a multicultural team recognize and understand why cultural differences exist among members of their team and to apply biblical truth to cultural differences. Silzer starts this book by stating that we are all created in the image of God. The image of God in us is distorted, however, by following cultural practices rather than biblical truth.

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Resolving Western Hegemony in Africa: Distinguishing the Material from the Spiritual/Relational

by Jim Harries

Dominant Western engagement in Africa wrongly presupposes African people to be dualistic. This misleads Westerners to believe Africans should be able to accept and build on secular approaches to solving their society’s problems. The result is confusion and unhealthy dependency on the West. To benefit tomorrow’s Africa, a genuine holistic witness to Jesus, and the positive development possible as people within societies follow Jesus, must use local categories and languages.

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Reflection: Cross-Cultural Interaction: Partnership with Chinese Workers

by Sam Yim

The concept of human development is different for East and West. For example, I heard of a Hong Kong pastor who worked with American missionaries to do church planting in Hong Kong. They started from zero and gave him five years to be independent. It meant this Chinese worker would not receive any financial assistance from the Western mission group after five years. When the time was up, the Chinese worker requested that the new church needed to have more time to be independent, but the negotiation failed as plans were fixed. The Chinese church viewed the Western group as selfish and that they were being forsaken too early. Therefore, any partnership needs both parties to dialogue and both parties need to be willing to adjust.

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