Here is the second part of my response to Jon Zens' article on a dialog between Missionary Cram and Red Jacket:
A classic example is the red dot on the forehead of an Indian woman. Many missionaries have insisted that this is removed when a woman becomes a believer because it is a Hindu tradition. But for an Indian woman to remove her red dot is the equivalent of asking a Western woman to take off her wedding ring. It is the symbol of her married status.
There is no reason to ask someone to abandon their culture when they become a follower of Jesus. In many nations, it is the same as giving up their nationality. All cultures have bridges to the Kingdom of God in their traditions and sacred writings. According to the Quran, no one can be a perfect Muslim (surrendered) without acknowledging the divinity of Isa Al Masih (Jesus). Victor Choudhrie, an apostolic church planter in India writes in his new Book of Insights, “The sacred books of the Magi talked about a star that would herald the birth of a King. This encouraged them to take a thousand mile ride on camelback across the desert. Similarly, God has put the “Unknown God” in Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and other sacred texts. So in them lie buried the secret keys for unlocking the minds of these people.” These keys or bridges can be used to lead a person to Jesus.
If Missionary Cram and associates had been sensitive to the culture of the people they were trying to reach, and if the settlers in America had demonstrated a lifestyle worthy of their claim to be followers of Jesus, the Indians might have responded very differently. In spiritual terms, we are still dealing with the effects of our betrayal of them.
But let us learn our lesson from this piece of history. As we reach out to different groups of people, whether that be here or in other nations, let us approach them with humility, seeking to learn from them and their culture rather than always insisting that we are right. And as we find pointers to Jesus in their culture and way of life, let’s use those to lead them to Him.