Contextualization and the Ovahimba Christian youth
Petersen, Gideon Phillip
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As a missionary to the Ovahimba, in north Kunene Region (Namibia), this researcher has discovered that although the Christian Church has had a presence for five decades it has not been able to establish roots in the Ovahimba community. In these five decades of ministry the Christian mission concentrated on teaching the children and/or youth about the gospel. This implied uprooting the children from their cultural moorings and introducing new and different moorings. Yet when family and friends challenged their Christian allegiance they returned to their traditional life experience. Jesus became an appendage to their ancestor-mediators. Jesus was just another helper. The underlying worldview of the person remained the same. The premise of this study suggests that mission belongs to God (Missio Dei). It starts with God and it ends with Him. He desires to have humanity in His presence. Based upon this premise it becomes imperative that the Christian community find a way to share the Biblical message so as to draw the Ovahimba into that mindset. To achieve this the thesis recommends the principle of critical contextualization that will enable the Bible to remain the focal point of a localized Christian community. However, such localization would need to remain within the local community yet be part of the universal Church. This is not a dilemma but represents the oneness of the body of Christ. It is not a unity in diversity but unity despite diversity. This study therefore proposes that contextualization is vital to planting a Christian Church within this community. To achieve a deep-rooted transformation the study suggests a model of understanding culture. This model is then recommended to the Christian community to help identify the Ovahimba worldview so effective transformation can take place.