“Going Cross-Cultural”

Going cross-culturally in Ethiopia

by Phil Rice, YMI European Director | November 2018

I recently had the privilege of joining Dr. Randy Smith to help teach the initial two courses for our new MA in Youth Ministry at the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was a great trip for many reasons and the rewards are yet to be fully seen.

The courses on Principles of Youth Ministry and Youth Culture are so enjoyable to teach because they breathe life into those who are starting a ministry – and those who have been working at it for a while.

Whether in Romania or Ethiopia, the question in student’s minds in the youth culture class is usually the same: “How will you Americans teach us about our youth culture?” To which I simply reply, “We will not be teaching about your youth culture. We will be giving you the tools necessary to study your own youth culture. Then you will be teaching us about your youth culture.” 

Some doubts are still there from the students. However, by the end of the week they have not only learned the concepts to study their own youth culture, but have identified many subcultures and strategies to reach them with the good news of the gospel.

The methodology we use in this particular class is so practical that the students are not only able to understand the principles, but also begin applying them immediately.

Students choose a subculture group they will study together, interact with, and give a presentation on for the last day of class. It may sound difficult, but it works out quite well.

After a group had given their presentation on the “pool hall” youth subculture, I asked an older pastor if he was stretched a bit doing this particular subculture research. He replied,  “At first, I thought they would be mean to us and maybe fight us, but after getting to know them, they were very welcoming and kind to us. I would like to go back and do more with them.”

Sadly, it is usually our fear of the unknown that keeps us from getting to know people well enough to build relationships so that we can have an opportunity to reach them with the good news of the gospel.

The final paper for the class is an individual project on a particular subculture. I have been impressed with the final research papers I receive, along with reports on how they are using what they learned in these first two classes to build and strengthen their youth ministries throughout Ethiopia.

Praise God for our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia and around the world who continue to get out of their comfort zones to go “cross-culturally” to reach this generation of young people. 

Please continue to pray for them as they teach these principles to other youth workers as well

Africa Ministry Spotlights