Cross-cultural communication is the ability to pass information amongst people from different cultures in order to develop and maintain relationships. Peace Child by Don Richardson is an unforgettable story about how Don and his wife Carol shared the gospel in New Guinea with the Sawi people. The autobiography was a key which unlocked the existing value systems which had been there for many generations.
According to Richardson (2005), in an attempt to influence another culture, some ethical issues must be considered. For example, moral relativism influences how values and attitudes within a culture. The Sawi held different philosophical positions from Don and his wife based on primitive moral judgments where they considered Judas as the hero due to his betrayal rather than Jesus who made a sacrifice for their sins. It was within their culture to befriend an enemy then kill him and Don had to respect their tactic and way of survival in his mission (Richardson, 2005, p. 10).
Ethnocentrism is also another ethical issue which influences another culture. Don and his wife did not have to think that their culture was superior. Prejudice would make the Sawi people not to accept them in their attempt to change their whole foundation to prepare them for the Gospel. Interference of morals is another major ethical issue in the contemporary universal cultural Gamodeme. So as to affect or change the character or behavior of a community, one has to deal with the issue of interfering with morals and values of the communities.
Does Richardson have the right to intrude upon the Sawi people? Of course yes. He had a vision and a mission to fulfill, which had to involve the belief and value systems of the tribe. Indeed, Richardson had to change the foundations of their beliefs to make them understand about the Peace child of God. The Sawi people valued their old primitive beliefs and evil practices which Richardson had to directly get involved in fighting against.
Richardson and his wife believed that Jesus had sent them for a special mission. This gave them a right, though unwelcomed, to get involved in the activities of the Sawi people as long as they maintained the necessary ethical standards.
Being devoted Christians, Richardson and his wife had s responsibility to change the fighting and other evil practices amongst the Sawi people. Arguably, every Christian has a responsibility to share his/her value wisdom with other to bring hope and peace into their lives. In keeping with Gibbs (2013), Application of their knowledge is not only necessary but also very vital for the Richardson’s to bring peace.
The goals of their mission came along with the responsibility to share knowledge about good social, cultural and economic values. This has to be a gradual process and knowledge should be passed in a way they understand. For example, they made a community which wanted to make peace present a "peace child" to the other and so as he/she lived, harmony and peace would exist between the communities.
In conclusion, there exist numerous challenges in attempts to communicate with people from different cultures but provided one has the appropriate wisdom to deal with ethical issues, working with them becomes very efficient. Richardson upholds necessary ethical standards and principles for a successful mission among the Sawi people of Irian Jaya.
Gibbs, J. C. Moral development and reality: Beyond the theories of Kohlberg, Hoffman, and Haidt. Oxford University Press. 2013. Print.
Richardson, D. Peace Child: An unforgettable story of primitive jungle treachery in the 20th century. Gospel Light Publications. 2005. Print.