Friday, June 28, 2013

East Meet West

The nasal mantra of the Buddhist stupa sounds in my ears the entire trip back to America, even as I traverse Irish streets in the small town of Sward, where I am struck with a compelling contrast. For over a fortnight I've been confronted with an eastern culture.  Now I am face-to-face with the West.

Clean roadways, neatly manicured lawns, symmetrically framed houses--each contrasts sharply with the world I've left behind in Kathmandu, where rugged houses of brick and concrete tumble in shambles, garbage litters city thoroughfares, and humanity plods forward at a leisurely rate. Where boxy tuk-tuks, crammed with people, vie for road space amidst racing motorbikes and overcrowded buses.  Where dust and dirt cover the entire city in a film-like layer that housewives daily battle with buckets of water that they douse outside their living spaces.

Other contrasts abound.  Monotheism; polytheism.  Rationalistic worldview; spiritualistic worldview.  Addiction with the rational; obsession with the supernatural.

Western women uncover.  Eastern women cover.  Westerners expect individualism, while Easterners rely on family for support.  The West glorifies youth, while the East deifies age.

A confrontation of worldviews meets the missionary to the Far East--in a way different from the evangelist to the Western world.  Where the Western missionary employs logic, the missionary to the East is confronted with a people whose superstitions defy reason, whose demonic encounters stand in contrast to the God-defying Richard Dawkins types of the Western world.

How needful then, for us in the recycle-conscious region of the world, where garbage usually remains in bins and dumpsters, where a plethora of choices abound in the well-stocked supermarket, where wealth, even in what is considered "poverty-stricken" areas, is manifested if, in nothing more, than in the well-proportioned sizes of the citizenry, to remember the needs of our missionaries to this culture, as they confront head-on a worldview so different from their own.

Remembering the need from East to West, let us follow the Lord's command in Psalm 2:8--"Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession"!

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