I had multiple flights and layovers by myself on the return trip from Ecuador. I spent most waking hours gulping down Achebe's fascinating novel, Things Fall Apart. You can purchase it here.
The essence of the grace and love of God demonstrated in the sacrifice of Jesus is beautiful in all cultural contexts. The essential message of the gospel and its implications, however, is often marred by the messengers themselves. The problem lies in the fact that transferring a message from one context to another is fraught with all sorts of complexities and dangers.
Chinua Achebe offers an insider's view of the upheaval caused by a foreign messenger penetrating a local context. Sometimes the best of intentions can become muddled in cultural ignorance and static-filled communication.
In Things Fall Apart I found myself torn between appreciating both the complexity and intricacies of the Ibo culture and the efforts of the missionaries to communicate the good news of Jesus to them.
I can't help but think that the kindness, compassion, and love that we are called to demonstrate has to do with acknowledging and sympathizing with the profound pain and confusion the introduction of Christianity into a local context can engender. A clear view of this should push us to tirelessly labor to share the good news of Jesus in ways that avoids unnecessary trauma and resistance. May the grace of God seen in the cross of Jesus be the only obstacle to new life in Christ.
If you're interested in reading more about how missionaries and cultures interact, then see Don Richardson's article, "Do Missionaries Destroy Cultures?".