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Across all cultures 

In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world — just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.
(Colossians 1:6)

This week I shared a cup of tea with former StAG member Bayar Garamtseren, who is leading a project to translate the Bible into his own native Mongolian language. He showed me pictures of his church family in Ulan Bator, and we talked about the rapid growth of Christianity in his country.

I also happen to be reading Tim Keesee’s remarkable Dispatches from the Front, which is a travel book with a difference: a journal of the author’s visits to meet Christians in some of the world’s tough places. In former Soviet republics, in the Balkans during the war there, in Western China, in Cambodia, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan and many more places, he meets Christians joyfully sharing their faith — sometimes in the midst of great suffering. This is a story seldom told.

This makes me reflect on the astonishing capacity of real, living Christianity to cross cultures. The people I hear about from Bayar or read about in Keesee’s book come from totally different places from me, with different histories, different cuisine, different customs, different family structures, different societal expectations, different politics, different music, even different jokes. But like me, they have found Jesus Christ to be the all-sufficient Saviour. They share with me the same joy at the Lord’s love, and the same desire to share the good news of this with those around them (though they express it more bravely!). Despite massive cultural separation, we share an experience, at the deepest level.

It has been like this since the beginning of Christianity, as Paul explains in the words from his letter to the Christians in Colossae: the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world. Paul, of course, was a pioneer in taking the Christian message out of its original setting in Palestinian Judaism to the Greco-Roman world, with its totally different cultures and world view. On Sunday evenings this term we’re hearing the wonderful true story of how he got on — and found people from utterly new backgrounds seeing that the gospel addresses our deepest human needs, and trusting the one the Bible calls the Saviour of the World.

Living Christianity is totally culturally transferable, because it is real, and comes from the God who made everyone.



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