Nikondeha seeks to build relationships
It’s a long way from Burundi, East Africa, to Long Beach, California–especially when it’s via France and England for education (B.A. in communications and the Norwich Bible School, respectively) and then, along the journey, to Northern Ireland, South Africa, and the USA Eastern Territory.
For Claude Nikondeha, the West’s new Multi-Cultural Ministries director, those travels have provided significant insights and experiences, all of which provide rich resources for him to draw upon in his work in the Western Territory.
While the world is composed of scores of people groups, Claude has observed that, in general, there are only two cultures: Western (European) and non-Western. The challenge is to build relationships–bridges–that connect the two.
Awareness is one of the first aspects in bridge building–becoming aware of the many dimensions of other cultures. “The Army in the West is successful in creating awareness,” said Nikondeha, noting it regularly translates materials into eight languages, and has established scores of ethnic corps.
He has developed a new seminar, “Developing multicultural competence in ministry,” to educate others about different cultures. Understanding is the key, he explains. “It’s learning how people value things, establish priorities, engage in decision making, and so on. Once you know what the differences are, you can put yourself in someone else’s place.”
Some of his goals for the territory include: providing multi-cultural training, seminars and workshops for Army personnel, soldiers, lay leaders, and officers involved in cultural-specific ministries; providing English as a second language classes, as well as a class on “Understanding the American Culture” at corps and centers; and encouraging the creation of multi-ethnic corps (ministries), especially in urban areas.