Hello, this is stardf29, and I will be taking over Anime Today for japesland while he is in Japan experiencing the Japanese life for himself.
Kiniro Mosaic, a.k.a. KINMOZA, is a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show with an ongoing theme of overcoming communication barriers, and that theme is stronger than ever in the currently-airing second season. In addition to the obvious example of the language and cultural barriers between the Japanese and British cast, there’s also the barrier between teacher and student, and plenty of subtler barriers that keep various characters from clearly expressing their thoughts to each other.
Communication barriers are even more important for Christians, because evangelism is in many ways like translating a foreign language. When we preach the Gospel to non-Christians, we are taking something that is fundamentally incomprehensible to them, and explaining it in a way they can personally understand. Christians can run into several communication barriers that make the job of evangelism harder, some of which can even discourage them from trying to talk about the Gospel to others.
After the jump, I will look at some common communication barriers, as experienced by both the characters of KINMOZA and possibly by Christian evangelists.
“I don’t want others to hate me.”
The major new character in the second season of KINMOZA is Kuzehashi-sensei, a teacher who looks like your standard “strict teacher” type. However, she is actually very fond of her students and wants them to like her. Her serious look gets in her way sometimes, as does the fact that, as a teacher, she also has to enforce proper discipline. With some help from Karen, who recognizes that her strictness is not all there is to her, she starts overcoming her insecurities and connecting with her students more.
Many Christians are afraid of sharing the Gospel because they are worried the other person will dislike them for “trying to shove religion down their throat” or just otherwise talking about a sensitive topic. In some cases, they are worried they will end up being bullied for their faith. Make no mistake, there will be some people who will not take to being evangelized to kindly. The Gospel is in its nature offensive, as it requires those who accept it to die to themselves, something most people instinctively reject. Ultimately, we have to decide what is more important: following God or gaining the approval of the people of the world.
At the same time, it is understandable for us to want to preach the Gospel to a non-Christian friend and still remain friends if they choose not to accept it. My best suggestion is that the more you can show that you care about another person beyond what they believe in, the more likely they will be accepting of your sharing the Gospel with them. You can also frame it as simply sharing something important to you, something so wonderful that you would feel like a bad friend if you did *not* share it. If you make your priority showing your love for the other person, rather than whether they will love you in return, you can overcome this barrier more easily.
“I don’t want to come off as one of those crazy Bible-thumping Christians.”
Related to the above but with some notable difference is the fear of the image we present when we say something. In KINMOZA, we see this fear in Honoka, a classmate of Karen’s who has largely stayed well off to the side of the show but got some focus in episode 6 of the second season. She wants to ask Karen for her e-mail address but is worried that it would look like she is hitting on her. Of course, this ends up being nothing to worry about as Karen is perfectly happy to give her e-mail address to Honoka (and she probably wouldn’t mind if she was hitting on her, but that’s another matter entirely).
Christianity does admittedly have a bad reputation among certain people, and there can sometimes be an understandable fear that our evangelizing might be seen as part of something more sinister. An example of this can be trying to share the Gospel with a homosexual, and being worried about appearing as though you are trying to push a political agenda. Another example is trying to evangelize with someone whom you know has had a bad history with the church in their past, and being worried about coming off like the same people that turned that person away from Christianity in the first place.
The suggestions in the section above can work here, too: do your best to show that you care about the other person regardless of what their faith is, and explain your intentions as simply sharing something great that changed your life for the better. If the other person has had a bad experience with the church, you can move toward showing how the way those in that person’s past have acted unbiblically. In this case, the goal is to make your own faith clear and showing the other person what loving Christians really look like.
“I might not explain the Gospel well enough.”
Shinobu originally gained some interest in becoming a translator when, as a young girl, she met an English speaker who wanted to know how to get somewhere. While she herself was unable to understand her, someone who did know the language helped her out, and she felt that it would be nice to be able to know how to translate and help people separated by a language barrier understand each other. Ironically, Shino struggles quite a lot in English class—understandably so, as English is one of the hardest language for someone growing up with an Oriental language to learn. This makes translation even harder, as just the slightest mistake can cause the resulting message to be completely different from what the speaker intended.
As translators of the Gospel, Christians often fear that they will make mistakes and mess up the presentation of the Gospel message. Maybe they are worried that they will miss an important detail or say something wrong, or that they cannot present a convincing enough message, or that the other person will come back at them with a question they cannot answer. We feel that we just do not know enough about the Gospel to be qualified to evangelize, and that if we were to try, we would just ruin whatever plans God had to save someone.
It is important to realize that evangelism is something we work together with God on, and that moreover, God is in control of the situation; no mistake we make can foil any plan God has. And God does not just call experienced Christians to evangelize; he calls all of us, even new Christians, to share the Gospel. Even if you do not know a whole lot about the Gospel, just share what you do know, take note of any questions the other person has, and come back with any more information you get. You can also ask a pastor or other experienced Christian to help you practice sharing the Gospel, as they can help you refine your explanation and give you answers to some common questions. Once you have presented the Gospel the best you can, just leave the rest to God.
“Preaching the Gospel is awkward.”
Sometimes, all that is keeping us from saying what we want is how awkward and unfamiliar it is to speak our hearts. Like how Aya gets embarrassed over trying to tell her best friend Youko what she really thinks of her, some Christians just feel weird sharing the Gospel out of plain unfamiliarity. Especially in this case, practice helps a lot, though ultimately that awkwardness will only fade away once you actually take that first step and share with someone.
If sharing the Gospel is a scary prospect to you, I hope this post helps you understand some of the communication barriers that might be behind your fears. I know I still struggle with these barriers myself, which is why this post is as much for myself as it is for others. But if KINMOZA has taught me one thing, it is that while overcoming communication barriers can be hard, it is very much worth it in the end.