Cross cultural work with God Spaces
by Hamish Divett
Still hanging by a slim thread of hope
Suspended between an unthinkable past
And an inconceivable future.
What will become of you?
Head in your hands
Still perplexed by what you did,
By what you didn’t do.
This young tree under which you have found shelter today
Is too small to give you shade
Too big to move beyond.
Beyond to the howling unknown
Where lurching giants, with haunted eyes
That have seen so much but know too little,
Still stalk the dark night.
Who will comfort you?
Who can give you words to wing your way to your future?
Who will fight for you?
Who can wield a sharp steel blade
Able to excise these phantoms of the mind?
We ran a seminar in Bali for a local church. It is always exciting to work cross culturally. And, it never ceases to amaze me how extraordinarily applicable God Spaces is to almost every culture.
The reason is that the process is ‘clean’. There is no imposition of culture, language, metaphors or any other symbols onto the people we are working with. We work with the ‘languages’ of the culture.
Those ‘languages’ include the people’s own metaphors, drawings, pictures, art work, movements, sounds (as in music or other) and imagery. Most people are not hung up on theology – for them it is simple – they just want to find where and how God is at work in their world, so they can be empowered by his presence and revelation to live more closely aligned to his plans and purposes for them.
God Spaces is a remarkable way to help people achieve this.
Don’t cry Rwanda,
There is a sword,
The sword of the Spirit
Wielded by Angels
Turning and turning every which way
And there is a Word, the Living Word,
The deafening shout of the voice of God
Making a way where there is no way
Past the forests, the lakes and rivers
And a thousand mist draped hills
To meet your bright future, made without hands,
Shining in the sun,
Coming down out of heaven from God
It’s architect and builder is the Almighty
And you shall be His people
And He shall be your God
Don’t cry Rwanda.
(Posted on May 25, 2008 by Hamish)
Another recent example that deserves mention of how well this works cross culturally is the work I did recently in New Zealand at a Rotorua Māori summer school for Anglican ministers and lay workers.
What was notable was that when I encouraged the workshop to begin to think about the numerous names for God in the Bible and some of the wonderful metaphors used to describe who he is. When we began to compare them to some of own Māori symbols so important for who we are – then the room came alive.
People began to draw and represent God like a ‘river’, like a mountain, like the sun, like the rain and so on. Many of these metaphors are common in scripture. So once the group I was working with made the connections they were empowered to be themselves. Some of the outcomes were astounding as people wept and laughed that God could be there for them like a river that flows freely.
For Māori to name one’s river and mountain are important parts of being located by where they come from – their whakapapa and iwi connections. There are always ‘redemptive analogies’ in every culture!