The 3-D Gospel
While doing door-to-door prayer ministry in one of the garbage dump slums of Phnom Penh, there she was in front of me: a beautiful young woman in her early twenties. I so desperately wanted to communicate God’s deep love for her and that He had a hope-filled future and plan for her life, to hopefully plant a seed in her heart of truth. I wanted to share the good news that Jesus loves her and wants to be her forever Savior and King. Suddenly, I felt like I had no words. It seemed that what I had typically defaulted to in the past was no longer relevant in this moment. Here I was, in the heart of a nation that worshipped multiple gods and participated in ancestral worship, daily presenting offerings to appease the spirits. How could I connect to her heart and understanding, when my own experiences were so radically different?
I silently prayed something I had never prayed before: “Jesus, I want to share Your love and hope, but I don’t know what to say. I open my heart to You to share in a way that I’ve never shared before. I ask that You clean the slate of how I’ve shared in the past and put your words in my mouth of what is relevant to her life. I am listening Holy Spirit. Please show me what to say.“
Have you ever wondered about how to share the gospel most effectively cross-culturally or with those who believe differently than you? If so, you’re not alone. That is exactly where I found myself that day, standing in front of this precious woman. In faith, I began to speak little by little. As I said one thing, the next thought would come, and so it went something like this (paraphrased): “There are many spirits, but there is only one true good and powerful spirit, The Spirit over all spirits. His name is Holy Spirit. He is a good and powerful spirit, and He loves you and wants you to know His love and power as well.” It’s so crazy to me all of what I was saying! I would never share in this manner to someone in the United States with a Western mindset. I continued on, and at the end, I asked her if she would like to experience the power of Holy Spirit. She gave an eager nod, “Yes!“
After we spent a brief time inviting Him to come and touch her with His love and power, she opened her eyes and shared, “I felt good feeling.“ Although I was hoping for us to go deeper, a seed was planted and God makes sure for the seed to grow (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
I’m not saying that I shared it perfectly, but I do want to encourage all of us (myself included) to be open in sharing with the one in front of us in a way that is relevant to them. Since I had been praying for some time for keys to unlock the hearts of those I was ministering to, I was encouraged by the confirmation that a local church had just given a message emphasizing the supreme power of Holy Spirit, the most powerful above all spirits. Also, shortly after this experience, I met with my book club, and God gave me yet another confirmation, as well as a new tool: The 3-D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures by Jayson Georges.
The 3-D Gospel is a short read but packed with great insight. Included are three different cultural perspectives in relation to the Gospel: guilt-innocence, shame-honor, and fear-power.
In general, the Western mindset thinks in the guilt-innocence perspective. In guilt-innocence, people who do wrong are guilty and the sin must be paid for in order to restore innocence. However, most of the world relates to the Gospel from the shame-honor cultural perspective. In shame-honor (Asia and most of the world), in the event of “losing face” due to not fulfilling the expectations of the group, honor must be restored. Interestingly, what I didn’t realize at the time of sharing with the woman was that I was ministering from the fear-power perspective. In fear-power, people live in constant fear of the spirits, and they seek to pursue power over them. Even though there are three distinct categories, each culture is a mixture of the three, but one or two generally dominant over the others.
It’s fascinating to me that much of the culture in the Bible is shame-honor and fear-power, although all three are included. For me personally, this new revelation has deepened the truth of the Gospel to me on a new level as well, as Jesus came to not only restore my innocence but also to redeem my honor and alleviate fear.
For my final thought, although we have wonderful tools made available to us, the most important thing is to be in tune with the heart of God for the one in front of us. Let’s open our hearts today and see where He takes us. Oh, how He loves each one of us so uniquely!
Written by Cathy Cupp
Published on 3/16/2018