When I was in Grahamstown last year our circuit went on a 'mission' to the people of a township near Alexandria (which is near Bushman's River Mouth). In, what is often true Methodist style, we had no training or preparation for this - but I suspect that one gets the hang of it after a while. I found myself as the spiritual expert (minister!) of a small group of people going from home to home. I was expected to spontaneously give a sermon at each home. The weather was rainy and at one home there was quite a large number of people gathered - it was quite an opportunity to give an evangelistic message, because the people did not seem to be church-goers, and I did so. This was well-received and I was relieved because there was a sense of 'aggression' in the home that I could not understand.
As we were leaving a belligerent looking young man came after us and said he wanted to ask me a question. He pointed to the African shrine in the corner of the garden or yard. What about this? What about the ancestors? I was quite scared and didn't have time for a thought out answer and just said, 'Jesus is more powerful than any ancestor could be.' Suddenly the man was full of smiles and said that he was glad to hear what I had to say.
It was only a long time after that I understood that the reason he was glad was that I hadn't just said that the ancestors don't exist. It wasn't helpful to him to be told that something he perceived as a real and dangerous power in his life did not exist. But to be told that there was a greater power was helpful.
More in another post!