Across the Street and Around the World
: Following Jesus to the Nations in Your Neighborhood…and Beyond
by Jeannie Marie on Amazon
You don't need to be either Christian or considering local or international travel to a culture different from yours to benefit immensely from Across the Street and Around the World, yet if you're in either situation, and supremely if you're Christian and venturing into a nearby or across the globe community of mostly immigrants or refugees or permanent residents unlike yourself, so much the best.
Jeannie Marie reminds us everyone is not "all the same," so don't ever assume they are. Her experiences with people in Eastern – primarily Muslim – countries held high value and interest for me. I have enough basic western smarts to know (for example) despite North American culture possessing a sameness, every state and each province has quirky distinctions we need to watch out for and may not understand at first encounter. Hey, we may not even understand their regionally accented English!
Everyone everywhere is not all the same, so don't ever assume they are. "In the Gospels Jesus didn't offer the same good news [gospel] in the same way to everyone. How he offered good news always depended on the person's immediate visible need—and his or her inner felt need." (page 88)
Jeannie Marie explains Muslim culture ("culture" encompasses people who practice the religion of Islam and those who aren't necessarily religious but go along with ethnic Muslim culinary and social habits) is honor and shame based with almost no notion of sin and guilt. Although I've never been much concerned with guilt or sin, either, most Western Christians emphasize Jesus obliterating sin and guilt. That absolutely comports with many passages of scripture, and with Jesus' words recorded in Matthew 26:28, "this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured our for many for the forgiveness of sins," (though best guess is "for the forgiveness of sins" is a gloss by a later redactor to align Jesus' words and actions with passover), but the author makes clear Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension led to a full, abundant life in every way for the entire world, all the people, all creation, and wasn't simply a near-static cancellation of sin and guilt many assume. As we reach out to previously unreached / unengaged people, we need to be like the bible as the written word of God that brings us gospels by Luke the Physician and by John the Beloved, that provides thought-filled practical counsel by James, vivid apocalyptic by John the Revelator, and not offer the same pictures and words about Jesus the living Word of God to everyone.
In the author's world, "field worker" rather than "missionary" is the current term for anyone who lives cross-culturally in order to make disciples for Jesus. Because they contain the "sent" word root, I prefer the old-fashioned missionary and missioner we still use in the protestant mainline, but that's simply an aside.
Field workers, missionaries, Jesus people interacting with other cultures also need to be aware of different life styles and worship styles amongst Christians. An individual's post-baptismal apparel isn't necessarily a white shirt and black pants for guys, long skirt and long-sleeved blouse for women. The worshiping assembly may or may not meet in a rectangular room with stained glass windows, a cross, and a plushy red carpet. Friends of Jesus may or may not gather around a round kitchen table for praise, scripture study, breaking bread and drinking wine. Particularly in terms of worship we need to remember worship and hymn-singing in both the spoken and the cultural vernacular languages of the people was one of Reformer Martin Luther's seven marks of the true church.
Although you could describe Jeannie Marie's Christian perspective as conservative evangelical rather than my own more liberal mainline, in the end all of us are about helping lead people to Jesus and thus replace life-denying practices with life-engendering ones. As my review title states, Across the Street and Around the World is solid evangelism and solid anthropology. It's impossible to cite any part of the book as more valuable than any other.
I ordered Jeannie Marie's book especially because the urban church where I'm active is in an ethnically exceptionally diverse urban area and has been successfully reaching out to nearby Iranians; more than a dozen have been baptized and have become active in worship and other activities. As an amazon vine reviewer, I read it as interested individual so didn't do anything with the Small Group Plan, Small Group Bible Reading list, or Recommended Resources for Further Exploration at the end.
my amazon review: fabulous anthropology and evangelism resource