Nineteen years ago I was in Zimbabwe on a two-month Youth With A Mission (YWAM) outreach, out of The King’s Lodge training base in Nuneaton. This was with my wife and three young children (6, 5, 2), and nineteen other people (adults and children).
This was my first experience of cross-cultural mission and ministry outside the UK and my first experience of the incredible Continent of Africa. I was not even thirty years old and despite all my senses being assaulted for good or ill, God was calling me and my family into mission.
Anyone who opens up their Bible becomes an interpreter. The task of an interpreter is to correctly interpret, to separate the Word for all time over and against that which is merely cultural or temporary.
For example, on Saturday I had a rare steak and it oozed with blood, contrary to Acts 15:29. I have also never had my feet washed in church (John 13:14). Both of these are scriptural New Testament commands, so the question becomes, as we interpret the text – how am I interpreting this text over and against another text?
Below is a list put together from a missionary who was (is?) based in Ethiopia, and so obviously had to contend with cross-cultural interpretation as well as basic biblical hermeneutics. The point of the list is to raise the question of each text: what is meant to be temporary and what is meant to be timeless? It would be a great exercise to use in any Bible study with adults and I think, especially teenagers who are learning to read Scripture well, and help to prevent the classic line we often hear, “But the Bible says….!”
I came across the list when I worked with the mission agency YWAM, and we used it on the School of Biblical Studies. Enjoy!