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Following Jesus’ Example: Empowering Leaders in Global Missions, by Victor H. Cuartas

There is an urgent need for building authentic relationships. Trust is one of the most important aspects to consider for developing relationships with diverse ethnic groups. Most majority world leaders are looking for people that they can trust and with whom they can partner. Also, it is important to “recognize that unity is grounded in shared commitments, but nurtured in relationship.”12 This is an important value for the Hispanic, Asian, and African cultures. Most of the leadership transactions are based on authentic relationships. The majority world missionaries are not necessarily looking for perfect planning and strategies, they also want to know that we are willing to learn from them as well. Are we willing to listen and learn from them? This is an important question that we need to consider.

Misunderstandings about Power Distance

Societies in different cultures have developed different solutions to inequality. In his article, “Hofstede’s Culture Dimensions: An Independent Validation using Rokeach’s Value Survey,” G. Hofstede defines Power distance as “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations accept that power is distributed unequally.”13 Hofstede conducted a great research in forty countries. He identifies “High Power Distance” cultures, in which people believe that there should be an order of inequality in the world (e.g. Philippines, Brazil, and Turkey). On the contrary, in “Low Power Distance” cultures (e.g. Austria, Norway, and United States), the majority of the people believe that inequality in society should be minimized. To understand these differences will help us to anticipate and deal with these challenges. What can we expect when working and serving with people from Latin America, Asia, and Africa?

Is it not remarkable that God is sending Asians to reach Africans, Latinos to reach Muslims, and Africans to reach Europeans?

When cultural values hold opposing views, conflict may occur. Cultural values are very important and all of us need to be aware that values contribute to the identity and self-perception of the people. In Christianity Confronts Culture, Marvin Mayers shares six pairs of contrasting basic values: dichotomizing vs. holistic, declarative vs. interrogative, time-oriented versus event-oriented, goal-conscious vs. interaction-conscious, prestige ascribed versus achieved, and vulnerability as a strength versus weakness.14 Usually, people place a high priority on their values. Be prepared to deal with the challenges of having missionary agencies, local churches and missionaries with different values. Usually, people place a high priority on their values. In addition, organization’s values and individual values are also confronted.

For instance, if we are developing Business as Mission strategies in difficult access countries, we need to train our staff and missionaries to deal with different corporate values in that specific nation. What kind of new values are we going to embrace in the process? “The only absolute cultural values to which every culture must bow are the eternal biblical values, to which Jesus held.”15 In addition, we need to emphasize more spiritual values to work in unity (Gal 5:19-21, 2 Cor 6:14-7:1).

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Winter 2013

About the Author: Victor H. Cuartas, D.Min. (Regent University), has been involved in pastoral ministry and church planting for nearly twenty years. He is Assistant Professor of Practical Ministry and Global Missions at Regent University in Virginia. Victor serves as director of research for COMHINA, a missionary movement that mobilizes Hispanics in the United States and Canada for ministry to unreached people groups. He is the author of Empowering Hispanic Leaders: An Online Model (Church Starting Network, 2009) and Capacitando Líderes Hispanos: Un Modelo En Línea (Wipf & Stock, 2010). He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Oxford, U.K. through Middlesex University & Oxford Center for Mission Studies.

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