Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

What’s the Deal with the 10/40 Window?

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats, Strategy

If you look at the world to see where the most unreached with the gospel are located, you can see a trend. Check out this map from the Joshua Project. The area in red is the least reached.

joshuaproject

  

A man named Luis Bush was looking at a similar map and statistics and realized that the majority of the unreached people are in an area within 10 and 40 degrees latitude from Western Africa to Eastern Asia. Luis drew a box around this area and called it the 10/40 box. However, his wife, Doris, suggested he call it the 10/40 window because it is a window of opportunity.

 

1040

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This area has 2/3 of the entire world’s population, but it is well over 90% unreached with the gospel. Not only that, but only about 4% of Christian missionaries are working there. This is also because this area is resistant to the gospel and has well-established religions and governments contrary to the Christian message. Most of the world’s Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists live within the 10/40 window.

 

1040window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Since so many of the world’s unreached are in that area, some missions organizations are focusing on that area specificially and some are seeing amazing results. There is a new movie coming out that is going to highlight some of the changes and exciting things God is doing there. See the trailer below.

 

 

For more information on the 10/40 window visit Joshua Project or Light the Window.

Map of the Unreached

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats

475

Thanks to the amazing folks at the Joshua Project, we have a map of where the gospel is the most and least saturated. If you look at the map you can see the huge area in red that is considered basically unreached with the gospel. You can also see, based on the green, the areas that are already saturated with the gospel.

When planning your next missions trip, or church outreach, this map really shows where the biggest hole is. Hopefully, you can can consider reaching out to where this huge need exists.

The Need for Missionaries: Video

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats, Missions Quotes, Should I Go?

I was on Twitter the other day, and saw a post that led me to this very cool video about the needs around the world for missionaries. The video is from Tears of the Saints. I found it on a blog called Between Two Worlds by Justin Taylor. It starts out with a short clip from a sermon and then goes into a powerful music video. It has some really beautiful footage from India and around the world. Did you know that there are only 100,000 missionaries in the world?

Millions of Muslims Turning to Christ

by Carol Grace |

Facts and Stats

fkiwer

More Muslims have converted to faith in Jesus Christ over the past decade than at any other time in human history. 

In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, a leading Saudi cleric, appeared on a live interview on Al-Jazeera satellite television to confirm that, sure enough, Muslims were turning to Jesus in alarming numbers. “In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity,” Al Qataani warned. “Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.” 

Stunned, the interviewer interrupted the cleric. “Hold on! Let me clarify. Do we have six million converting from Islam to Christianity?” Al Qataani repeated his assertion. “Every year,” the cleric confirmed, adding, “a tragedy has happened.”

Chuck Colson says, “It is possible the sheikh was inflating his numbers to incite a reaction against Christianity. But clearly, something is happening.”

One of the most dramatic developments is that many Muslims — including Shiites in Iran and Iraq — are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus and thus coming into churches explaining that they have already converted and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus.

Stats

Most of these are from Joel C. Rosenberg’s book Epicenter, quoted by Chuck Colson, and from the website Islam Watch.

Afghanistan: There were only 17 Christians from Islam in Afghanistan in 2001. But there are more than 10,000 believers at present. Every week dozens of baptisms being held there.

Kazakhstan: In 1990, there were only three known Christians in Kazakhstan but now there are more than 15,000..

Uzbekistan: In 1990, there were no known Christians in Uzbekistan, and now there are more then 30,000.

Iraq: More than 5,000 Muslim converts to Christianity have been identified since the end of major combat operations, according to Islam Watch, with 14 new churches opened in Baghdad, and dozens of new churches opened in Kurdistan, some of which have 500 to 800 members. Also, more than one million Bibles shipped into the country since 2003, and pastors report Iraqis are snatching them up so fast they constantly need more Bibles.

Egypt: Around a million believed in Jesus over the past decade in Egypt. The Egyptian Bible Society used to sell about 3,000 copies of the JESUS film a year in the early 1990s and now they have sold 600,000.

Iran: There were only 500 Christians in Iran on 1979, but today, interviews with over two dozen Iranian pastors and church leaders reveals that there are at least 100,000 and possibly many many more, most of whom meet in underground house churches. 

Sudan:  More than one million have converted since 2000, and some 5 million have become Christians since the early 1990s. 

India: More than 10,000 Muslims accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour throughout India during the last year.

Russia: According to the website Islam Watch, in Russia, some two million ethnicMuslims converted to Christianity last year.

Turkey: 35,000 Muslims accepted Jesus.

Algeria:  More than 80,000 Muslims have turned to Christ in recent years.

Morocco: Newspaper articles openly worry that 25,000 to 40,000 Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years.

France: 10,000 French Muslims have come to accept Jesus.

These countries aren’t necessarily Muslim, but we thought you might find the information equally of interest.

China: Missions researcher David Barrett says the country with the most rapid Christian expansion ever is China where there are 10,000 new Christian converts every day.

North Korea: Open Doors sources in North Korea estimate that there are 40,000-60,000 Christians in the country.

Mongolia: In 1989 there were only 4 known Christians living in Mongolia. Now there are an estimated 10,000

Photo by mmcdonnell

Are you kidding me? Real Life Stats about Missions

by Carol Grace |

Facts and Stats, Strategy

scream2
Photo by maveric2003

This article the direct result of my interaction with a close Christian friend yesterday. Now, what you need to know is that this friend is REALLY into God. Really. She goes to church every Sunday, is totally into Christian concerts and Bible studies and she prays intently. She is totally IN. And, she is quite a delightful person. But we got in this conversation where I happened to throw out a stat about the unreached. 

Her response: “You’re kidding right? I thought everyone’s already heard the gospel haven’t they?”

My mouth must have practically hit the floor. Not only did she have no idea that there were unreached peoples in the world, but I had no idea there were Christians who didn’t know that. AND, she is my friend. I mean, I go on numerous missions trip and am totally into this whole thing.  How could she have not known?  How could I have not mentioned this before?  Anyway, right then and there I knew I had to post a blog about the real stats that are out there. I mean, I have seen, in person, people across the world who looked at me with a blank stare as I first mentioned the name of Jesus, so I know they exist. But I guess not everyone realizes it.

So, here they are, the real life stats. These are from a very reputable organization that researches these types of things and which has members and contributors that are active in leading the Perspectives courses.

(Stats are from the World Christian Trends, William Carey Library, David Barrett & Todd Johnson. “The summary and analysis of the annual Christian mega-census.”) Thanks to Fellowship of Martyrs for posting these. For more stats and details, check out these links: Status of Global Mission, AD 2006, In Context of 20th and 21st Cent , Looking Forward: An Overview of World Evangelization, 2005-2025

Ok, without further ado…

World Christian Trends: Stats and Facts

Unreached Peoples

  • About 25% of the world is completely unreached and unevangelized: 1.6 Billion people.
  • Despite Christ’s command to evangelize, 67% of all humans from AD 30 to the present day have never even heard of his name.
  • There are thousands of language groups who do not have a SINGLE page of the Bible in their language.
  • 70% of Christians have never been told about world’s 1.6 billion unevangelized individuals.  

Missions and the Church

  • Percent of Christian resources in countries that are already more than 60% Christian – 91%. Percent spent in countries where less than half the people have EVER heard of Jesus – 0.03%.  
  • 40% of the church’s entire global foreign mission resources are being deployed to just 10 countries already possessing strong citizen-run home ministries.
  • 91% of all Christian outreach/evangelism does not target unevangelized countries, but countries that are already 95% evangelized.
  • 818 unevangelized peoples have never been targeted by any Christian agencies ever.

Spending by the Church

  • Less than 1% of Christian revenue is spent on evangelism to the unevengelized peoples.  
  • Christians spend more on the annual audits of their churches and agencies ($810 million) than on all their workers in the non-Christian world.
  • Annual church embezzlements by top custodians exceed the entire cost of all foreign missions worldwide.  Embezzling from the Church –   $16 Billion per year.
  • Total Christian spending on foreign missions – $15 Billion.

Persecution of the Church

  • More than 70% of all Christians now live in countries where they are experiencing persecution. In some cases, extreme persecution.
  • 14 million converted Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims have opted to remain within those religions in order to witness for Christ as active believers in Jesus as Lord.

Martyrdom

  • Over the last 20 centuries, and in all 238 countries, more than 70 million Christians have been martyred – killed, executed, murdered – for Christ.  
  • More Christians have been martyred in the last 100 years than all years since AD 30 combined.

 

To bring home the facts even more, here are a couple of graphs from the Joshua Project and Operation World.

 

graph1

The first image shows the lack of missionaries in the world where they are most unreached and unevangelized.

graph3

The second image also shows the disproportionate amount of missionary activity to Christians versus the unevangelized.

 

Romans 10:14-15
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

 

We would love to hear your comments…

Peru: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

Cultural Sensitivity, Facts and Stats, Peru, South America, Travel, Travel Health & Safety

snow mountain peru
Photo by Rick McCharles

FACTS & STATS

map of peruLocation: South America, bounded on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil and Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Capital: Lima.

Climate: Tropical in the east to dry desert weather in the west and temperate to frigid in the Andes.

Population: 29,180,900 as per July 2008 estimates. About 44.5% of the population live below poverty line according to 2006 estimates. A 2007 statistic puts the rate of unemployment in Lima at 6.9% while the rest of the country faces widespread underemployment. Peru’s economy is affected by a lack of modern infrastructure to support investment leading to overdependence on traditional avenues of income such as metals and minerals. However, the period between 2002-06 saw some stability with a growth spurt in 2007. Other than metals and minerals, Peru’s economy depends on exports in agriculture, textiles and newly developed natural gas projects.

peru manEthnic Make-up: Amerindian 45%, Mestizo 37%, White 15%, Others including Black, Japanese, and Chinese 3%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 81%, Other Christian denominations 2.2%, Others including Judaism, Baha’i, Islam, and Hinduism 16%. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and citizens may practise their faiths unrestricted. Evangelisation ministries and charity works are carried out by various Christian denominations all over the country.

Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, other Amazonian languages.

Government: Constitutional Republic

peruvian marketTravel Issues: You require a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity to enter Peru. North and South American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and most West European nationals can obtain a visit visa on arrival for up to 90 days stay. You will be given a tourist card which has to be kept safe and returned when you leave the country. It is very important to not lose or misplace this card as it can cause quite a lot of grief if you do so. For a period longer than 90 days for a tourist visa you need to exit the country for at least 2 days, possibly to a neighbouring country such as Chile or Ecuador, and obtain another 90 days validity. You may also renew at the Department of Immigration in Lima or Cusco for a period of 30 days and a maximum of 3 renewals.

Health & Safety: Visitors to Peru need to watch out for and be immunized against high risk of infectious diseases such as Hepatitis A, cholera, malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, Oroya fever and yellow fever. An International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever is required if you are arriving from an infected region.

machu picchu in fog
photo by kudumomo

SOCIETY & CULTURE

girls with lamas peruThe People
There is a distinct difference between the various cultures, none more so pronounced as the one between the white creoles of Spanish descent who inhabit the cities and the local indigenous people of the mountains. Cities such as Lima have most modern conveniences suited to a western lifestyle while the rural areas continue a more traditional life. Most families are dependent on farming for sustenance.

dancers in peruThe Religion
The population of Peru is predominantly Roman Catholic due to their Spanish colonial history. Other religions such as Buddhism and Baha’I have established themselves due to the influx of migrants from the East. Modern day missionary works have resulted in various Christian denominations such as the Seventh Day Adventists, Lutherans, and others taking root in Peru society.

lima slumsRole of Family
Family structure is distinct in the indigenous culture and the European people of Peru. Among the Inca people, for instance, social duties such as work, marriage, and property ownership are focussed within the members of a large extended family. They perform as a unit with the onus being on interdependence rather than individuality. Among the European Creole culture, the values are more along the lines of the modern nuclear family living in the cities.

Ancestors
Ancestors are revered and worshipped by all indigenous people. Burial grounds are held as sacred grounds and elaborate rituals are held in remembrance of ancestors. Respect for the dead and all of life is an integral part of their beliefs that are based on the need to assure enqa, or the eternal life force, that ensures fertility and harmony.

ancient peru maskRecreational Activities
Football (Soccer) is a national passion enjoyed by all ages. The dramatic landscape of Peru naturally encourages outdoor sports such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, white water rafting, surfing, paragliding, and sandboarding.

Anything else important for this culture
The culture of Peru dates back 10,000 years and is still rooted in it to a large extent. This is a vibrant society that celebrates about 3000 festivals a year and has a huge variety of indigenous arts, crafts, music, and dance. Spanish colonisation and Asian immigrants have added elements to this ancient culture that give it a universal appeal. It is wise to avoid discussing ancestry with people, especially with indigenous Indians.

 schoolgirl in peru
photo by tinou bao

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Meetings & Greetings
Handshakes are an acceptable form of greeting; however, there is a difference when greeting an Amerindian and a Peruvian. The former are less extroverted and may not actually shake hands but rather brush hands with minimum of contact. Peruvians are more exuberant in their greetings and shake hands on meeting and taking leave. The common form of greeting is a cheerful Buenos dias (good day), buenas tardes (good afternoon) or buenas noches (good night) depending on time of day. Conversation on first meeting should hover around light, non-controversial topics such as health of family, the sights you’ve enjoyed seeing, or food you liked particularly.

smiling woman in peruCourtesy
In a country that has various cultures there are many local names for the different cultural groups that may have connotations not obvious to the outsider. For instance, the word indios refers to Amerindians but is not considered as polite as indigenas which is the acceptable form. Gringos denote any foreigner and need not be considered an insult. Cholos refers to Peruvians of colour but is racist. To be on the safe side refrain from using any of this sort of descriptions to address people or refer to anyone.

Gift Giving
Peruvians are very friendly hospitable people and have no qualms inviting friends to their homes. If you receive such an invitation, it is acceptable to arrive with a gift. This gift should not be too expensive or flashy. Rather than going for local fare it would be a better idea to gift some souvenir or packaged goodies from your own country.

Dress Code
Dress code hovers around neat casual for business and formal occasions. Show of skin is considered unclassy, especially when visiting churches, museums, and other sacred or historical places.

peruvian train
photo by  exfordy

Dining Etiquette
If you’re invited to dinner, it’s wise to remember that this could be rather late. Have a little snack to prevent hunger pangs till meal time gets underway. If you initiate an invitation to dinner, it is your turn to pick up tabs. If on the other hand you have been invited by a Peruvian friend, you could offer to pay your share but this would inevitably be turned down.

Visiting a home
When visiting a home it is proper to arrive with a suitable gift. This could be a box of chocolates or a good bottle of wine. Punctuality is not a virtue in Peru and people may be late by a better part of an hour. So be prepared to dine late.

 peru town square
photo by 00dann

Communication Style
Spanish is widely spoken and so it would be helpful to learn a bit of useful phrases to get you through. Use greetings to break the ice an start conversations. Peruvians are very friendly and helpful and any effort you make at conversing will be appreciated and encouraged.

Dos and Don’ts
Do not discuss politics, drugs, or indigenous groups unless you have developed close relationships or understand the culture. You are bound to cause offense without even realizing it if not. Amerindians do not make eye contact when communicating unlike the less reserved Peruvians. Do not use your index finger to motion to people, rather use your palm facing downwards and beckon with all fingers sweeping down. Do not discuss money, wages, financial prowess or status with locals. If faced with such questions deflect them diplomatically and talk in general terms.

kids with lamas by Phillie Casablanca
slums by James Preston
map by  thejourney1972
dancers by  Miguel Vera
smiling woman by quinet
market girls tinou bao
mask by
rosemanios

Japan: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

Asia, Cultural Sensitivity, Facts and Stats, Japan

JAPAN: FACTS & STATS

 japan map

Location: East Asia, a group of islands located between North Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, and the Korean Peninsula.

Capital: Tokyo

Climate: Cool temperate in the Northern regions to tropical in the South.

Population: 127,288,416 as of July 2008. An almost routine familiarity with high technology in almost all walks of life, a disciplined work ethic, and comparatively small allocation towards defence funds have seen Japan rise to be one of the most powerful economies in the modern world. Agriculture, seafood, electronics, domestic appliance industries, automobiles, and tourism are the strong foundations that rule its economy. Japan has an unemployment rate of under 4% as of 2007 estimates and no citizens below poverty line.

street in japanEthnic Make-up: Japanese 98%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, Others 1.1% (includes Brazilians of Japanese origin who returned in the 1990s).

Religions: Buddhism and Shintoism 84%, Others 16%, Christianity 0.7%. The Japanese Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but no religion shall be privileged over an other not attempt to influence politics.

Language: Japanese

Government: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government.

Travel Issues: Travel to Japan requires a passport that is valid for at least 3 months beyond intended period of stay, and a return ticket or ticket for onward travel. Countries such as USA require no visa for up to 3 months of visiting. Other categories such as Business, Diplomatic Missions, Sports, Education, etc have specific requirements and current information can be had from the nearest Embassy or Consulate.

Non-US citizens should have a passport with at least 6 months validity remaining. They need to submit 2 completed and signed visa forms with 2 recent passport photos, a completed Cover Page and Credit Card Authorization forms, copy of itinerary or return ticket, and a business letter stating purpose of travel if on business.

Health & Safety: No vaccinations are asked for when travelling to Japan. However, it would be wise to check up on specifications close to date of travel in case of epidemics.

SOCIETY & CULTURE

Mount Fuji

The People
The Japanese people are an amazing amalgamation of a millennia old civilisation and an ultra-modern culture, especially so in big cities such as Tokyo. They exemplify a deep respect, politeness, discipline, and responsibility in their undertakings supported by a harmony that pervades social behaviour.

The Religion
The Japanese practice a form of syncretism which means an easy synthesis of elements of various religions. Practitioners of Buddhism have no qualms celebrating Christmas or incorporating Shintoism in their rituals just as philosophies such as Taoism or Confucianism. Shinto is the original religion of Japan but it was more a way of life with no formal founder, holy book, or fixed rules. Buddhism came to Japan from India in the 6th century and easily took over from Shintoism. Protestant missionaries came to Japan in the 19th century and spread Christianity. There is a smattering of Hindus, Sikhs, and American Jews in addition to the main religions.

snow monkeysRole of Family
The conservative family structure involving generations living together has undergone a shift in modern times. But the family ties are strong and the elderly are still considered the responsibility of the progeny. Children are taught the values of interdependence with in families rather than encouraged to strike out on their own. Families are seen as a source of support as well as a unit of pride and honour that has to be maintained.

Ancestors
Japan celebrates Respect for the Aged Day as a national holiday. Old age marks a period where individuals willingly relinquish reins of control to the next in line and retire to less strenuous options. They are then in the care of their kin and treated with respect and care simply due to their seniority. This duty normally falls on the daughter –in-law of the household.

In modern societies however, most pensioners are happy to remain by themselves as far as possible and most continue to work well past retirement age. This has brought about a dramatic rise in the number of nursing homes and retirement centre, a concept which was non-existent about fifty years ago.

Recreational Activities
From manga, anime, ikebana, origami, to karate, karaoke, and video gaming, Japan has a range of recreational and sport activities that have avid followers of all ages.

Anything else important for this culture
Japanese customs may come across as strange to outsiders and this is understood and accepted by them. But it earns you a lot of respect if you attempt to follow their etiquette and manners.

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

 downtown japan

Meetings & Greetings
In Japan you greet people with a low formal bow from the waist down. The depth of the bow depends on how much respect you intend to convey. The more senior the person you’re greeting, the lower you bow. Foreigners can make do with a slight bow or even shake hands instead.

Courtesy
It is considered impolite to introduce yourselves unless pushed to do so. You do not make direct eye contact with seniors. There is a great deal of emphasis on good manners, quiet conversation, and polite behaviour. For instance, it is considered rude to interrupt, disagree blatantly, or argue. There is a subtle play of body language to express these things without insulting or hurting the sentiments of others. There is also a great need to save face or avoid humiliating anyone or putting anyone in an embarrassing situation.

soba noodlesGift Giving
Gift-giving is no spur of the moment thing in Japan, rather, it is a well thought out and planned gesture that speaks volumes about both presenter and receiver. Chocolates wrapped well should do for most occasions. The colour of the wrapping is also significant as they are associated with good or bad fortune. Get advice from a local friend or the shopkeeper to be on the safe side. Gifting flowers can be quite a bother as some flowers such as lilies and lotuses are considered inauspicious. Potted plants are unlucky but bonsai is good. If its something countable, make sure it adds up to an odd number. However, avoid 9 as it is unlucky.

Dress Code
Formal suits are ideal for business meetings for both men and women. Conservative is key.

Dining Etiquette
Wait to be seated at the table for this is based on seniority. And again, do not start eating till the honoured guest or the eldest member has begun. If using chopsticks make sure you do not point them directly at anyone. Place them on the chopstick rest between mouthfuls. They should be placed parallel and never crossed. It is okay to slurp soup

 Japan Castle

Visiting a home
If you’re invited to dinner at a home, make sure you leave your footwear outside and put on slippers provided by the family. If you need to visit the toilets they have special footwear for that. Bring an appropriate gift and give it unobtrusively without drawing attention to the act. Avoid being very late or very early.

geisha in japanCommunication Style
Very few Japanese speak fluent English and it would serve you well to learn a few useful phrases to make life easier. Non-verbal communication is another thing that you should be acquainted with in order to interact better. Japanese people are quick to catch nuances in body language and base opinions on that. Japanese people usually maintain an almost expressionless face as they speak in order to avoid conveying any hidden meaning. If someone is frowning slightly as you speak, it means disagreement. Maintaining eye contact conveys impudence. Inhaling through clenched teeth and scratching the eyebrow are all signs to watch out for.

Dos and Don’ts
As in most eastern cultures, the Japanese have strong beliefs about good and bad fortune. They have definite dos and don’ts where these are concerned and it will serve you well to know what’s taboo and avoid it. Business dealings are decidedly easier if they trust and respect you. So your first priority should be to earn these invaluable credit points. It helps to learn a bit of the language and formalities as it helps to integrate faster into mainstream society.

Click here to take the quiz: How Well Do You REALLY Know Japan?

Geisha photo by ~ezs
Castle photo by Freakland – ???????
Snow monkeys by Marc Veraart
Noodles by ~MVI~
People by tata_aka_T
Downtown by OiMax

The Great Commission Music Video

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats, Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go

This is a GREAT short video montage of quotes about missions set to music. Feel free to use this anywhere… enjoy!

Mexico: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by admin |

Cultural Sensitivity, Facts and Stats, Mexico, Travel Health & Safety

MEXICO: FACTS & STATS

Mexico Flag
Photo by
Esparta

Location: North America; bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico on the East, Belize and Guatemala on the South, the North Pacific Ocean on the West and the U.S. on the North. 

Capital: Mexico City

Climate: Cold and dry in the North and hot and humid with rainfall in the South.

Mexican RancherPopulation: 108,700,891 according to July 2007 estimate.

Economy: The Mexican economy benefited from trade with the U.S. and Canada since the implementation of NAFTA. The economy is both agriculture and industry based, but modernization is yet to take off. Disparity in income distribution finds about 14% of the population below poverty line. The unemployment rate hovers around 4%. 

Ethnic Make-up: Mestizo 60%, Amerindian 30%, White 9%, Others 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 76%, Protestant 6%, Unspecified 18%. There is freedom of religion and evangelism is widespread. 

Mexican little girlLanguage: Spanish, Mayan, Nahuatl and others

Government: Multi-party democracy

Travel Issues: Visitors to Mexico require a visa for entry. You need to submit a completed application form along with a valid passport, visa fees, and passport sized photos to the Mexican embassy in your country. 

Health & Safety: Immunization against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Polio, Tetanus, and Diphtheria are recommended. Yellow fever shots are mandatory for those travelling from or transiting through African countries and other South American countries.  

SOCIETY & CULTURE

Mexican Guitar Players
Photo by  shutter.chick

The People: The people are of mixed European and Native American descent. Family bonds are strong and extended families of several generations live together. Mexicans are generally warm, friendly people and quite laid back in their way of life. 

Folklorico DancerThe Religion: Roman Catholicism is the major religion of Mexico. A large number of colourful religious festivals are celebrated with a great deal of pomp and show, with long processions and parades. 

Role of Family: Family values are handed down through generations. Traditionally women looked after the home and children, while men were engaged in farming. It is a way of life for extended families to gather around a large table for lunch and catch up with the latest gossip late into the afternoon. Now many young families migrate in search of a better life, usually to the U.S. 

Ancestors: Mexicans celebrate November 1st as the day of the dead in honour of their ancestors. There is no sorrowful mourning, but rather a celebration where streets and buildings are decorated with flowers. They pray for the souls of the dead and pay respects to their memory by decorating graves and lighting candles. 

Puebla at nightRecreational Activities: Bullfighting is a passion in Mexico. Rodeo events such as charreadas draw huge crowds who participate with exuberance. Soccer (Football) is also a national pastime and is popular with all ages. 

Anything else important for this culture: Mexicans tend to stand close when they talk. If it makes you uncomfortable, take care that you step away discreetly and not precipitately, as this may seem insulting.  

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Mexican Folklorico
Photo by  dave_apple

Meetings & Greetings: A firm handshake is an acknowledged form of greeting for both men and women. Casual conversation sets the tone for further serious discussions. Do not use first names unless invited to do so. Women are greeted with a kiss on the cheek, but do so only if the lady leans her cheek forward for you to do so. Some form of physical contact is inevitable in greeting, as a mere Hello would be interpreted as cold and impersonal. 

Courtesy: Common courtesy includes Please and Thank you at appropriate times. Social meetings are never inflexibly rigid, but tend to be rather casual. The use of titles is very important. Those with a professional title are addressed as such. You can take your cue from the introduction. 

Mexican Candy StandGift Giving: Gifts are tokens of appreciation and should be given when visiting for the first time. A box of chocolate will take care of most situations. Women can be presented flowers or perfumes. It is usual to present a gift to people who have done you a favor. If giving a gift to the opposite gender, indicate your spouse or partner’s role in it. 

Dress Code: Business suits are worn by men for most formal meetings. Extreme hot weather may find them in shirt sleeves and loosened ties. Women wear suits with either skirts or pants. 

Dining Etiquette: There isn’t any particular etiquette to be followed, but good table manners are always appreciated. If you invite someone out, you are expected to pay the bill. Splitting the bill is unheard of. It is the responsibility of the host to order the food after ascertaining the likes and dislikes of the guest. It is customary to linger at the table after the meal, and not leave immediately. 

Colorfule Adobe Mission
Photo by RussBowling

Visiting a home: When visiting a home you could carry a token gift with you. Flowers and chocolate or a bottle of good wine are perfect for any occasion. Exchanging pleasantries will take care of the initial breaking of ice, which may then slip into comfortable camaraderie. 

Children in MexicoCommunication Style: There really is no hard and fast style that can be termed uniquely Mexican. But be prepared for a flamboyant expansiveness and some amount of gesticulations that are considered normal. Resting your hands on your hips when talking is considered aggressive, while having them in your pockets is regarded as rude.

Dos and Don’ts: Petty crime and gang fights are quite common on the streets in certain areas, and it would do you well to be aware of such situations. Do not carry large sums of money on you. Credit card fraud is widespread and so it may be a good idea to pay cash at small outlets and shops. When drawing money from ATMs take care that you’re in a well-lit crowded place.

Rancher photo by wonderlane
Little girl photo by kretyen
Folklorico dancer photo by kretyen
Puebla photo by RussBowling
Candy stand photo by 
sean_mcgee
Kids photo by Jesse Michael Nix

Cameroon: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Melissa Chang |

Africa, Cameroon, Cultural Sensitivity, Facts and Stats

Cameroon Hut
Photo by Elin B

CAMEROON: FACTS & STATSLocation: Western Africa. It is bordered on the East by the Central African Republic, on the West by Nigeria, on the northeast by Chad, and on the South by the Republic of Congo. Capital: YaoundéClimate: Extremely hot and humid with plenty of rainfall. Cameroon MapPopulation: 18,060,000 as of July 2007 estimates. Though much better off than its other African counterparts due to thriving agriculture, forestry, petroleum industry, and trade, Cameroon is cursed by corruption and inefficient bureaucracy. According to 2006 estimates, GDP was $42.48, and is predicted to grow by 5.8% in 2008.  Ethnic Make-up: Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, North-western Bantu 8%, Nigritic 7%, Others 14%.  Religions: Indigenous faith 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%. The constitution of this secular state guarantees freedom of religion. About 60 agencies from 27 countries do missionary work in Cameroon. Language: French, English, 24 African languages. 

Government: Republic, headed by President Paul Biya. 

African Lady Carrying BananasTravel Issues: Travel to Cameroon requires a valid passport, visa, and proof of current immunizations including yellow fever vaccination. Your visa application should be send in duplicate to the Cameroon embassy in your country along with two passport sized photos, visa fees, a letter of invitation to visit, a copy of your return ticket, a copy of your current bank statement, and a pre-paid, self-addressed, special delivery envelope without which they may not return your passport to you. You may need to track the progress of your application, as they may not contact you if there is a problem.  

Health & Safety: Yellow fever shots are mandatory for all travellers over a year old. Other immunizations required are Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Malaria, Tetanus, and Typhoid. Rabies shots maybe required depending on season and region of visit. HIV/AIDS is prevalent.

Visitors would do well to not venture outside city limits after dark. This is to minimize dangers arising from factors such as ill-lit streets, unfit vehicles, and armed robbers that make attacks and accidents common.  

Yaounde
Photo by Elin B

SOCIETY & CULTURE

The People: About 200 ethnic groups each speaking their own language and having distinct cultural differences make up the ethnic tapestry. The prominent ones are the Bantu, the Sudanic, the Kanuri, the Bamoun, the Kirdi, the Tikar, and the Fulani. About half the population live in the cities, while the other half consist of pastoral communities living in rural areas. 

African Women SingingThe Religion: Roughly 40% of the people follow traditional beliefs if any at all, while another 40% come under various Christian denominations. About 20% are Muslims and they belong to the Fulani tribe. Witchcraft is practised by some as part of traditional beliefs though it is deemed a criminal offense to do so. 

Role of Family: Traditionally, the family imparted a sense of identity and belonging to the individual. All who descended from a common ancestor including brothers and their wives and children belonged together as one unit with the oldest member considered a leader of sorts. Some communities do not have words to signify niece, nephew, uncle, or aunt; all were sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. Modernity has however given rise to a sense of individuality. 

Ancestors: Ancestors are counted among the living and continue as part of the family. As new members arrive, the family grows larger, but death does not reduce the number.  Recreational

Activities: Children in rural areas enjoy a good deal of physical sport in the form of running, jumping, and a kind of hurdle race. In the cities all modern forms of recreation ranging from computer games to organized art and craft work take up their free time. Traditional forms of recreation such as mankala still have aficionados but are few and far between. Football, aka soccer, is of course, a national passion. The Cameroon team places very highly in international competition and is widely esteemed by all Cameroonians.

Anything else important for this culture: Polygyny is widely practised mainly due to the considerable importance accorded to fertility. Fear of divine retribution, the power of occultists, and ostracism from the community are strong governing forces.  

 Cameroon Mountains
Photo by treesftf

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS 

Meetings & Greetings: Greet people by name and a handshake. Wait to be seated as there is strict protocol depending on age, status, and hierarchy. If elders are present, speak when you are spoken to. When in the presence of a chief or tribal leader, it is considered impudent to hold their gaze, touch, or appear overly friendly.

Cameroon KidsCourtesy: Do not cross your legs while seated. Always wait for the elder to initiate conversation. Do not take photos of people unless you first ask.

Gift Giving: It is customary to carry a gift when visiting for the first time. Gifts of cooked and uncooked food are highly valued. It is a symbol of kinship and bonding. Fruits, nuts, chocolates, and candies are perfect when visiting families with kids. 

Dress Code: Women wearing trousers invite unwarranted attention and may be considered promiscuous. Long skirts are ideal, and a head scarf is recommended when interacting in Muslim communities. Keep shoulders, arms, and legs covered. Men wear suits or at least long pants. Shorts are frowned upon regardless of the hot weather. Dining

Etiquette: Dining is often a communal affair, seated on the floor and eating off common utensils. In many communities, women and children eat only after the men and guests have eaten. Hands are thoroughly washed before and after meals. Food is eaten with the right hand and never with the left. In the city areas, you may get to use cutlery. 

Cameroon SchoolkidsVisiting a home: Cameroonians are known for their hospitality. They are always ready to welcome visitors; even the ones that drop in unexpectedly. Remember to carry a small gift, especially if there are children in the home. You should not decline the food and drink offered as this may hurt their sentiments.  

Communication Style: A genial handshake and greeting by name is the common method of greeting for both genders. Close relationships warrant a kiss on each cheek. In conversation, adopt an indirect style of communicating rather than overtly stating exactly what you have in mind. Directness in communicating can come across as effrontery. It is wise to keep at least arm’s length between you and others while conversing with unfamiliar people.

Certain gestures might befuddle folks who are not familiar with the lingo. A double click with the tongue is used to convey disbelief. If someone waves their forefinger in a back and forth motion, it means no. To beckon someone closer, you face your palm downwards and motion with the fingers.  Never beckon someone with the palm up.

Cameroon Market
Photo by Elin B

Shopping Tips: Be prepared to bargain when you are out shopping at the markets. If someone offers to show you around and you accept the offer, a small tip is expected. Go with small change instead of large denominations when shopping at small outlets.

Do not flash your money in public. Try to blend in rather than stand out as a foreigner by your way of dressing and behaviour. Backpacks are often targeted by thieves and should never be left unattended. Make copies of all your travel documents including visa and yellow fever immunization and keep separate.

Dos and Don’ts: Avoid travelling alone as much as possible. It is not considered safe for women to be out by themselves after 9 p.m. They are advised against catching a cab at this hour. Try not to get involved in heated discussions on politics, games, and other contentious topics with strangers who appear friendly. Keep away from large crowds, rallies, and gatherings even if your sympathies are with their cause. Avoid photographing military installations and government buildings including airports and post offices.

All photos by Elin B unless otherwise noted

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