Book Review – “Culture to Culture” by Nan Leaptrott

Culture to Culture: Mission Trip Do’s and Don’ts

by Nan Leaptrott

340 pages, $14.99

ISBN: 0-89957-156-5

Nonfiction – Practical Theology/Anthropology

Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd

Nan Leaptrott, an internationally renowned speaker and founder of Global Business Consultants, has written an indispensible aid for those entertaining activities in global mission work. Her Culture to Culture should be required reading for anyone contemplating service on the mission field-it should be in all church libraries; a required part of the curriculum in Bible college and/or seminary; and given to all who are ordained as a missionary.

Why is this book indispensable? It cuts to the heart of what is the largest violation of intercultural etiquette-cultural insensitivity. Or, more to the point, the hubris and largesse which informs much of what Americans construe as mission work: the subtle belief that the American way is the only way things are done in this world. As Leaptrott is quick to point out, the fact of global westernization does not imply eradication of other cultures. Missionaries, therefore, should be very sensitive to the culture of any country to which they travel. When Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well (John 9), her question “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink? (NLT)” underlines the idea that cultural sensitivity matters.

Culture to Culture gives the missionary an encyclopedic reference to culture; whether it is surface culture (what you see on onset) or reference culture (the nuances of culture which are not seen right away). Since culture influences beliefs/values, etiquette/behavior, human relations, communication, and time, any cultural gaffe could be devastating to the missionary enterprise. Ethnocentric obstinacy not only proves a superiority mindset – it could ultimately undermine the building of God’s kingdom.

The book is divided into the following regions: Western Europe, Latin America, Arab Region, Asia/Pacific, Central/Eastern Europe, and Africa. Each region is subdivided into its respective country profiles. In each section, Leaptrott analyzes the country’s religious history and influential governing principles. The missionary-in-training will understand hierarchy, level of preparation needed, punctuality expected, level of formality, and dress/dining styles of the host country. Specific alerts, such as “transaction alerts,” or “interaction alerts,” are offset and in boldface for emphasis. After a thorough guide to international dining, the author provides an extensive alphabetical country-by-country summary for quick reference.

Culture to Culture is an excellent resource to communicate proper protocol for

missionaries. In essence, missionaries should:

· Be informed

· Have a plan

· Build bridges

· Reflect Christ

· And, if doubtful – ask questions.

If the objective of mission work is to demonstrate Jesus, then missionaries should walk in gracious objectivity – otherwise, wanton subjectivity may keep others from ever seeing Jesus.

Digital Nomads

But seriously, who hasn’t fought back the urge to grab someone’s cell phone and stomp it into a million pieces and feed it to them like Moses pulverizing golden idols and mixing the dust in water for the people to drink? I have finally entered the world of the smart phone and all of the bizarre, obsessive and sometimes out-right rude behavior of users all makes sense now. There is literally no end to the mindless distractions available at an instant. The great irony in all this is the fact that we call this being ‘connected’ and we spend considerable time on websites called ‘social outlets’ yet all of this digital communion has made us more estranged from each other than ever before. When did community come to be solitary confinement in gigabyte prisons? I enjoy keeping up with friends and family as much as the next guy when it comes to using the technology but is there something more sinister at play here?

Anthropology, the study of man through the lens of Darwinian Theology, believes man has been progressing for millions of years. The two great leaps in our evolution has been from rodent to human being and then from human being to social being. This advancement into a social consciousness is said to have come about through certain technological discoveries such as the use of fire, the wheel and the club for courtship. Before a social awareness entered the thick skull of Neanderthal, he wandered about as a lonely nomad, surviving as a hunter and gatherer… or perhaps, even a scavenger. Living day in and day out thinking only about the moment he was in and never considering the needs of others much. No hopes and dreams. No road map to success. No definition of success. Just being… human.

The book of Genesis introduces man and his capabilities in a very different light. As Adam looked about the animal world, he sensed an incompleteness about himself. So God made for him, a comparable help mate. In the beginning, the law of scarcity and the division of labor was with man in the garden. The Creator instructed Adam to take responsibility for the earth. God gave him a moral duty to think, plan, organize, develop and improve upon all that God had blessed him with. At no time, was Adam given the latitude to put off his responsibilities, turn inward and live a life of nomadic hedonism. Adam learned from the very beginning that he could not do everything himself. He was limited by time, resources and ability. He understood the division of labor would bring down production costs. He taught this to Eve and their children. Cain specialized in farming and Abel in husbandry. Cooperation in a free market was the first economy. If man would choose to rule over sin, he would prosper.

Well you know what happened next, God warned Cain to rule over sin but he chose war over cooperation. It is interesting to note that his punishment was to be a vagabond for murdering his brother. Notice Cain was greatly afraid of this lifestyle. Even he recognized the unproductive foolishness of being a wandering nomad, a rugged individual, a cowboy. When I speak of being a nomad, I do not mean the pastoral type of nomadism that was productive and future-oriented and social in thinking. I’m talking about the wandering, present-thinking, selfish, loner, counter-culture kind of nomadism. The kind that anthropologists claim was how man was organized first but then progressed. The truth is, man regressed into nomadic behaviors. The nomadic culture has reared its ugly head time and again down through history and when it does, it leaves nothing of value in its cultural wake and usually plays a violent role in destroying civilizations.

Solomon declares in Proverbs 18:1, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” The nomad rages against his moral responsibility to care for the earth and the people around him. When he does this, it is to his own hurt and to those around him. The Apostle Paul admonishes in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.” Not only must we be planners and investors in growth and prosperity but we must do so with a mind to bring those around us with us in that growth and desire to share the blessings.

As America has abandoned all sense of community from a moral Biblical perspective, the void has been gradually and subtly filled by Darwinian Theology, a Marxist Progressive definition of community that promises you can be a rugged individual who stands alone and can spend your days in hedonistic consumerism while the State fulfills your God-given responsibilities. Let’s face it… without God, it is an easy sell. We are digitally programmed by the explosion of realty tv shows like Survivor, Apprentice, American Idol, Cribs, Jersey Shore and Buck Wild to worship fame, fortune and power. We are selling out our ability to critically think and care about the grim reality we are in. We seem all too happy to turn a blind eye to responsibility and immerse ourselves in fantasy worlds induced by unemployment, fornication, drugs, music, movies, video games, apps, widgets and antisocial social networks.

Regressive Nomadism is sweeping across our cultural landscape. Hold on tight to your thinking faculties and don’t let love wax cold in your heart. The high calling of God is hard work and the road less traveled but the reward is far above anything we could experience in this vain life. Never settle for just being… human.

Eric Daniel Brown

Cain’s Wife – Where Did He Get Her?

This is a very simple question to answer. His wife was one of his sisters. We can see, by comparing the story of Cain to that of Seth in terms of time-frame, that this is Biblically plausible. Seth was 105 when Enos was born, and Enos was 90 when Cainan was born. The 4th verse of chapter five says that Adam lived 800 years after the birth of Seth and begat sons and daughters. Apparently Adam and Eve had quite a few children and at least some of them were daughters. It is interesting that the Bible rarely if ever records the birth of women.

My Sister, My Wife

It is very possible, then, seeing that Cain and Abel were grown when their conflict is recorded, that daughters had been born to Adam and Eve in the intervening years. One of them may have sided with Cain in his feud with Abel and with God and followed him into the land of Nod. Or perhaps Eve sent one of her daughters to Cain so that he would not be alone in the world. From the early verses of chapter five it is more likely, given as long as people lived in those days and as old as men were before they began to have children, that his wife was one of the daughters that was born after the birth of Seth; one who went looking for her brother for whatever reason.

”Scientific Problems” is a Begged Issue

Anthropologically speaking, it is altogether acceptable-indeed it is inevitable- that the first sons would have married sisters. There would have been no one else for them to marry. A race could not begin with an original pair and propagate if brothers and sisters did not mate. And let it be clear that one would not avoid this consideration if he adopted some other idea of origins. Somewhere the original pair of humans had to appear. In order for them to multiply there would have to be domestic cohabitation between brothers and sisters.

No Genetic Problems

Genetically speaking, there is no problem here, since the specialization in inbreeding that leads to genetic problems of a physical and mental nature does not develop until a family has been in existence for a good long time.

Morals Not an Issue

What does this concept do to Biblical morality and the Commandments of God? It does nothing, of course. The rules governing intermarriage were not given in those days since they had no meaning until there were alternatives. The mating of brother and sister does not involve a moral wrong on the functional level. The moral issue is a matter of respect for ones parents: ”The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover (Lev. 1:9).”

When there were alternatives and sons could make choices, then these rules had meaning that related to character. Had intermarriage been inherently immoral God would have forbidden it from the start, but then He would have had to start the race out with more than one created pair, which of course He did not. Obviously God, Who has a greater concern for morality than any theological gainsayer, was not concerned with this imaginary problem.


Physiologically speaking there were no problems either. A sister is just as much a woman as a non-relative, she is just as capable of being a wife and mother, and she is (or at least she can be) just as attractive and appealing as any other woman. As to biology, anatomy, morphology, cytology, histology and any other related discipline of physiology, a sister stands in the same relationship to a brother as any woman to any man. We do not consider it appropriate to find our sisters sexually attractive today because we are taught not to. This is a prohibition that is from antiquity. Good men recognize this and, out of character, make it an inalienable part of the personality. But before these prohibitions were made, and when there were no alternatives, these kinds of moral rules could not be, and were not made.

And so Cain’s wife was one of his sisters. Is there any reason at all that this is a wrong or that it should be considered a legitimate Biblical problem? No; there is none whatsoever. It may be dismissed entirely as another of the dishonest, ill-thought, and desperate attempts of detractors to see problems where none exist. This is what we would naturally expect; this is the only way it could have been under any consideration; and there was nothing anthropologically, genetically, physiologically, ethically, socially, theologically, or morally wrong with that.

© Daniel Earl Cripe, December 26, 2008