African Proverbs Build Bridges

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build bridges

God’s wisdom is embedded in the fabric of our world even though the Fall has obscured it. His truth is accessible to anyone with eyes to see! We see God’s Hand in nature and in the loving actions of those around us. Come with us on a fun journey exploring witty and wise African proverbs that will help you to see how you can utilize local wisdom to connect people to Christ.

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Engage Through Prayer

Dear God, help me to see your truth wherever I turn. Allow my deepening understanding of Scripture to inform how I view the sayings of rice farmers in Asia, goat herders in Africa and factory workers in Russia. Then allow me the great privilege of showing those who hold that wisdom dear the larger message of your love. Amen


Personal Reflection

As you interact with this Missiographic, take a moment to think about a local proverb in your own culture. We all have them and can recite them from memory. What is the deeper truth that the proverb holds? Consider how that truth might be a bridge into the heart of someone who grew up hearing that same phrase. Now consider how you might learn and utilize local wisdom in your cross-cultural ministry. What do these local truths say that God might use to help engage those you are seeking to serve? Also, don’t miss the rich resources about African proverbs at


Engaging the Church 

We rightly put tremendous influence on God’s Word as a communicator of truth, but do we ignore other ways God may be speaking to people? Just like the book of Proverbs, there are proverbs in every culture and many have eternal truth embedded in them. How might your church learn from this wisdom? What if you were to ask each missionary you support to send you 2-3 local proverbs from the people where they work along with some commentary on the wisdom behind them? How might that wisdom help your congregation grow? How could you use that wisdom as part of your training before your next short-term mission trip to work with that missionary? What could you teach your congregation about using local wisdom from your culture as a bridge to the Gospel?


Organizational Application 

Many of those involved in cross-cultural ministry today are training local leaders rather than doing direct pioneering work. But both are still critical. In both settings, training and direct outreach, the need to speak into the local culture is critical. But so many times our approaches are simply translated from our own cultural experiences. Integrating local truths is a powerful way to cross over from our own world and communicate truth in an extremely local way. How are you integrating local truths into your Gospel presentations, discipleship resources or your training materials? Consider the proverbs in this Missiographic and then visit to get many more ideas. If you are ministering outside of Africa, ask around and see where you can find sources of local proverbs to consider for your communication.

 Good information is key for any individual or ministry. For more insights look at



May 2016 “Proverb of the Month” on

Similar to, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but more positive from the child’s perspective.

Except where otherwise noted, all proverbs are cited from The Wisdom of African Proverbs: Collections, Studies, Bibliographies, edited by Stan Nussbaum. (Colorado Springs: Global Mapping International, 1996-1998).

3 Ryszard Pachocinski, Proverbs of Africa, (St. Paul, Minnesota: Professors World Peace Academy, 1996), p. 142.
4 Jay Moon, African Proverbs Reveal Christianity in Culture, (Eugene, Oregon: PICKWICK Publications, 2009), p. 136.

David Maranz, African Friends and Money Matters, (Dallas: SIL International, 2001), p. 88.


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