Culture in CHina -- It differs from the West!

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by His In China, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. His In China

    His In China
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    Key Culture Rules in China!

    Human Feelings: People have a difficult time expressing their feeling outwardly.

    Social Relationships "guanxi": Who you know, or who you are, or who you are related to is more important than your qualifications. Everything in China turns on "guanxi."

    Obligation and Reciprocation: Things or favors are done, not out of love or respect, but with the expectation that the favor will be returned.

    Social Hierarchy: The level of respect one is given is in direct proportion to where he or she falls in the hierarchy. I.e., the higher one is in the social structure, the more respect they are given.

    Insiders and Outsiders are Different: Chinese culture is tilted toward "clans" or groups. If one is not in the group, they are regarded differently, and usually in an inferior manner.

    Face: Face can be defined as "pride." One never embarrasses another in public. Another manifestation of face is telling someone what they WANT to hear rather than the TRUTH. Thus the truth can be very hard to ascertain because of face. If someone does something that makes another gain prestige in the eyes of the group, that person has been "given face." On the flip side, if someone does something that insults another, that person has "lost face."

    Indirectness: Related to face. Bad news, or difficult things are never just "blurted out." Rather, they are said in a more gentle, roundabout way.

    Courtesy: Courtesy is expected from people who are higher in the social order than you. Also, elders are afforded great courtesy. If someone is indebted to you, or is trying to gain "guanxi," they will be extremely courteous as well.
     
  2. John of Japan

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    His In China, this is very similar to Japan, the culture of which, like China, is based on Confucianism.

    So, please tell us more about your ministry--if you can, of course. How long have you been in China? How do you like that language?

    Japanese uses several thousand. of the "kanji," the Chinese characters.
     
  3. His In China

    His In China
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    My family and I have been in Communist China for over ten years.

    We are seeing souls saved, young men called into the ministry, churches started, opportunities to work with the minorities of CHina and now opportunities to start Bible College lessons for some who have been called into the ministry.

    We are witnessing some real growth in these past two years. Those initial years were HARD!

    Here we are English teachers, since almost all come to China as "tentmakers" using the platform of English as our trade.

    COncerning the learning the language, its difficult. Those tones are a killer and my old ears just don't catch them. However, my son is fluent and my wife can't pick up much more than me.

    Using English in the services is a must since the Chinese BIble is really a bad translation. All of my CHinese preachers say if it wasn't for English, they would never truly understand the Bible.

    Two of my Chinese preachers translate for me and there is not a service that goes by that they don't have to explain something to the group since their Bibles are missing words, thoughts and even just totally missing the how meaning. Its sad, but I rejoice that they know English and now we are working on making corrections to the Chinese Union Bible. We've already contacted some folks in the USA, who is interested in reprinting the CHinese Bible, but that will still be a few years down the road.
     
  4. John of Japan

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    Praise the Lord, His in China. This is a wonderful testimony. I hope to hear more about your ministry as we share on the Baptist Board.

    God originally called me to Japan, and then I fought it for four years, wanting to go to Hong Kong. (It was impossible to get into China even to teach English in those days.) But God brought me back again to the Japan call. So, I envy you (only in the flesh, of course ;) ).

    For anyone who wonders that His in China has difficulty with the language and works through an interpreter, think about it. Have you ever tried to learn a language with no alphabet, but thousands of tiny Chinese characters with anywhere up to over 20 individual strokes, and then say those words such that you have to get the several tones exactly right or you might call someone's mother a monkey? It's a tossup which language is more difficult, Chinese or Japanese. Keep working on it, His in China!! [​IMG]

    Please share more about the Bible version problem. Is it just that there is no TR-based Bible in print in Chinese (same problem in Japanese)? Or is it something else?
     
  5. Su Wei

    Su Wei
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    I admire white folks (I'm taking the liberty here to assume you are white folk, His in China [​IMG] )who attempt to learn mandarin. [​IMG] I grew up studying it in school for 12 years and i still struggle with it. [​IMG] zen shi can kui.

    Mandarin has four tones. Cantonese, my family dialect (what they speak in Hong Kong) has six. My husband is a fluent speaker and reader of mandarin, and his family dialect is Hokkien. He tried to speak Cantonese to my grandmother once and accidently asked if she had died yet. Oh boy.(He meant to ask if she'd eaten yet.) [​IMG] My grandma only chuckled....

    As for the Chinese bible, the he-he ben is not a TR-based translation, hence many verses are missing or changed. :mad: It saddens me to think that so many chinese christians are having a rusty sword to fight with.

    There are several historical chinese bibles but they're not viable anymore for one reason or another. The Morrison bible, being one, but it is written in very very old chinese, not easily understandable by modern speakers.
     
  6. John of Japan

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    Hi, Su Wei. White Boy John here!

    I love the Chinese language, and can read it a little since I know the characters from written Japanese. I've got a set of CD's on Cantonese, but just haven't had time to study them. Hokkien fascinates me too, but I couldn't find any books at all on it in the States.

    Thanks for the information about the Chinese Bible. So, how hard is the Union Version for you to read. It's already almost 100 years old, isn't it? So are the grammar and vocabulary hard for you? No doubt it would be much easier than Morrison's anyway, right?
     
  7. Plain Old Bill

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    I spent two years in Tiawan and 4 years in Korea.Korean was much easier to learn than Mandarin.The Korean language has an acual alphabet.
     
  8. John of Japan

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    You do get around, Plain Old Bill.

    Those Chinese characters are the sticker. Korea was wise to get rid of them. (No offense to my many Chinese friends! ;) ) I know missionaries who have been in Japan for decades who read the language on a 1st or 2nd grade elementary school level because they just couldn't handle them. Me? I love 'em--but I'm strange anyway. :D
     
  9. Su Wei

    Su Wei
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    you're funny, sir. (Shan't say wierd. [​IMG] ) [​IMG]

    If you know mandarin, you can roughly guess cantonese and hokkien. here in singapore, because our migrant worker ancestors came from different parts of China, we have exposure to many different chinese dialects. So even if we don't speak it, we can understand it.

    I struggle with reading chinese. I have trouble recognising characters. Listening and understanding is mostly not a problem but speaking i have trouble coming up with phrases sometimes. (I think, by Literacy standards, i wouldn't be considered as chinese literate. [​IMG] )

    I haven't come across the Union bible you speak of, but my husband says he may have seen it. He's tried reading the Morrison and said it's very ...how shall i say... convoluted?

    [ February 24, 2006, 09:14 AM: Message edited by: Su Wei ]
     
  10. Su Wei

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    oh yes, i forgot to mention... Cantonese is a "sing-song" sounding dialect whereas hokkien is more "gutter-speak". very "chor lor". That's rough, or uncouth. Like most people who curse and swear do so in hokkien. [​IMG]
     
  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Oh, go ahead and call me weird. Everyone else does. :D

    I'm afraid I'm not fluent in any of the Chinese dialects, but I've studied the grammar some, and learned a lot of words over the years since I have trained in wu shu (kung fu for you Americans) for 34 years. ;)

    I had forgotten the Chinese name, but I looked it up and "Union Bible" is the English name for the "He he ben" Bible you use. It was translated in 1919, so it is now getting quite old, isn't it! I gave out many copies of it to the Chinese students when I was in Japanese language school many years ago.

    So, do you use the Shen version or the Shangti version? When my wife and I visited Hong Kong several years ago, the folks we were with liked the Shangti version.

    For anyone interested, these are two names for God in Chinese. Shangti is the name for the original God of China's original monotheistic religion. [​IMG]
     
  12. Su Wei

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    I didn't want to sound too much like Peppermint Patti, see... But i can sense you're a kindred soul, wierd or not. [​IMG]

    Oh yeah..i flipped open the first page of my husband's chinese bible and there it says, "The Holy Bible Chinese Union Version". duh to me. [​IMG]

    The language of the Union bible is okay for mordern speakers of Mandarin. Morrison is not (but it's a faithful translation!)

    I only very recently came to know that there was such an issue concerning the translation of Shen or Shangdi.

    I think, if going by John 3:16 in my husband's bible, it's the Shen version.

    Yes, i understand that Shangdi was the orginal term for the ancient chinese people's monothestic God. Until Qin Shi Huang, (the crazy emperor who comissioned the building of the Great Wall) said he was God and everyone had to call him Shangdi, or Huangdi.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    I'm sure I had read about that event, Su Wei, but I had forgotten about it, though I recently read a really interesting book on Chinese religion.

    Strange how rulers start to think they are God, all the way from Nebuchadezzar (I love to say that name in Japanese) to Qin Shi Huang to the Roman emperors to the Japanese emperors. They never learn!
     
  14. Plain Old Bill

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    Wow you are way into martial arts.I took kung fu in Korea for 4 years.Also did 3 years in Italy and a year in Nam, I have lived in California,Pennsylvania,New Jersey,Georgia,North Carolina,and New Mexico.Been a lot of tother places too.
     
  15. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    The way you get around, Bill, maybe our paths will cross someday and we can kick back and kick around our kicks from our old kung fu days! [​IMG]
     
  16. Plain Old Bill

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    If you could see me now you would'nt be talking that way.Oh by the way I have been to Japan several times but the longest I've stayed a one time was two weeks.
     
  17. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I have a little bit of spare luggage my own self! [​IMG]

    Next time you come to Japan, visit us in the cold north if you can. [​IMG]
     
  18. Su Wei

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    Wow! Sir, you're not only funny, wierd, you're also ancient! You've done wu shu (what kind? or which "branch") longer than i've been around on earth. [​IMG]

    Anyway, back to the topic....

    Another thing about Chinese culture is that we don't like to talk about bad things (like death or accidents or business failure, things like that), not even in a joke, lest it comes true.
    It's like putting a hex on yourself (or the person.)

    Like if a child says innocently,"grandma, is your toe so painful like you feel like dying?" and that child will get a chiding,"choi choi choi. Dai ka lai see." (The equivalent will be more like,"shush yo mouth."

    (Kum Long, if you're reading this, can you associate with what i'm saying?) [​IMG]

    So, to do evangelism in china, it is not appropriate, perhaps not terribly helpful, to ask,"Do you know where you will go after you die?" Because, Chinese are taught not to think about death.

    Well, there are chinese religions. I attended a Taoist funeral recently. I tried to take a photo but i had to do it secretly coz my husband said they might get offended that the dead man's soul might be captured in the camera or something. So the picture didn't turn out coz i took it from far away and without flash. [​IMG]

    The funeral rites are performed to ease the passage of the soul (which is lingering) to the nether world. There's a set chant, bowing at intervals, the family has to participate in these rites, the eldest born son has to lead. (He carries a lantern, which is also taken by the priest and twirled several times at intervals.)
    The family hence is very obedient in observing these rites since the soul's safe passage depends on it. That's how satan traps people in religion. [​IMG]

    Behind the casket, there are items made of paper for the dead person to use in "hell". A huge palace, rolex watch, luxury car with driver, servants i saw. These are burnt and thus, sent to hell.

    There's also a hell currency that's burnt for the dead people to use in hell. It's sheets of paper cut into squares with a silver square in the middle.

    Makes you wonder if there's a whole economy going on in hell and how are share prices doing?

    My grandma used to burn this paper money once every year during hungry ghosts festival. (the seventh month on the lunar calender, all the ghosts are let out from hell to roam the earth.)
    As a child, i participated in burning this money, well, coz it was fun to play with fire. I even followed her in kow towing at the family alter. I have since repent of that sin.
     
  19. John of Japan

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    Fascinating, Su Wei. I've read about these customs, but it is very interesting to read about them from one who is there.

    As to my wu shu, among others I've trained in Pai Lum (White Dragon) from Fukien, Wing Chun from Canton and Tan Tui, done by the Muslims in N. China. I enjoy every minute of it, including the bruises, scrapes, occasional cracked rib, stitches, etc. See? I told you I'm crazy!!

    In 2001 my wife and I spent a week in Hong Kong with a Christian martial arts ministry there, and had a wonderful time! Funny, though, they didn't seem too impressed with white boy wu shu, but they loved my judo/jujutsu! :D
     
  20. MikeinGhana

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    The original post spoke of face to face. I read a book titled, "Cross Cultural Evangelism" that deals with "shame" in third world countries. It changed my ministry here in West Africa. When I started changing the way I dealt with people it made a big impact on the way I was able to mentor people and lead them into deeper descipleship.
     

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