It’s that time again. Winter Olympics 2018 has begun! There is excitement and eager anticipation while we wait to see who will come out on top of each event.
It is always interesting to me to watch the opening exercises. The culture and beliefs of that country are always showcased at this time. This year the event is in Asia, Korea to be exact. While there are many things unique to Korea, there are many things that are similar in other Asian countries, including the one that I live in.
At one point, a large group filled the stadium stage. There were drums and choreography. It was stunning. The commentator made an interesting statement. In this country “the group is more important than the individual.” This philosophy shines through in many areas of life in this part of the world.
The culture I live in is one of conformity. People who ‘think outside the box’ don’t fit well in society. This explains the difficulties that many national Christians face. They are ‘outside the box.’ They don’t conform when there are national holidays or events that are centered around idolatry. Sometimes they actually become outcasts from their family. It is a big step here when a national is baptized. It is a public statement that separates them from their culture. My husband has often said that you can’t be a good Japanese and a good Christian. Their culture is intertwined with the idolatry of buddhism and shintoism.
It was also interesting to me when the single gong was sounded. The commentators explained that this represented new beginnings and a new step in spiritual enlightenment. This is very common here at New Year’s. It’s a very quiet holiday here. The New Year enters with the single gong and a meditative silence, with none of the celebrations that westerners enjoy. Of course, as there is more and more influence from the west, this is changing in some areas. On New Year’s Eve we drove an half an hour to see fireworks. We didn’t know that they would only last for 3 whole minutes!! HA!!!
Pray for your missionaries. It is very difficult sometimes to work within the parameters of the culture. Sometimes we have to take a stand against something within the culture, not to mention the philosophy of the group being more important than the individual. As an American, we think the exact opposite. I heard a national pastor pray one time for a new missionary. He asked the Lord to help them think like a Japanese so that they could minister more effectively. That is a prayer to pray for any missionary!!
As you watch the opening and closing ceremonies of this Olympics and Olympics in the future, I pray that you will watch looking for ways to pray for your missionaries and the national Christians in that country. If you are seeking, you will find!!