Chapters 1&2

22/Mar/2011

I’m only through the first couple of chapters in Ministering Cross-Culturally. However, I’ve already been slammed with some stuff. The first chapter is entitled “God’s Metaphor for Ministry: The Incarnation.”
Did you catch that?

Read it again.

Wow. That is something I had never really thought about in those terms before. Jesus is the ultimate "cross-cultural" minister. (that's not a lot to live up to at ALL) He set aside His "culture" and fully immersed Himself in  ours. Or more precisely in the Jewish culture of His time. He came as an infant (not an expert or part of a ruling family) “born into a humble family in a conquered and subjugated land.” He came as a learner. This is something I think is difficult for most people but especially for we Americans. We feel we are expected to know everything and BE everything. Jesus learned, just like any infant, about His people, land and culture. This is the best way to approach cross-cultural ministry. Immerse yourself in the culture and learn from everything and everyone. We shouldn’t expect to plop down in the middle of a completely different place and think we can change everything to suit our ideas of what lifestyle and even worship should be. “God’s Son studied the language, the culture and the lifestyles of His people for thirty years before He began His ministry.” So, learning to step outside our culture and it’s norms, finding the nonnegotiables and setting aside the rest is necessary for true ministry to occur.

Another thing that really hit me in this chapter is to remember that grace and, more importantly, God transcends culture, lifestyle and ethnicity. This is something we all know but it is difficult for that to truly impact our lives. We are often bound by the rules and expectations of our society. And we try to impose those on any other society we come in contact with. However, “Salvation in Christ releases us from the works of righteousness that are required by our culture and empowers us through faith to follow Him as we journey into other cultures, with their conflicting identities and values.” When resolving this conflict in ourselves (“their” values and rules vs “mine/ours”) we tend to gravitate, or more truthfully RUN, toward the familiar and predictable whether or not it is the most healthy or helpful route. Those words “but we’ve never done it that way before” haunt us.

“We must begin as a child and grow in their midst. we must be learners and let them teach us before we can hope to teach them and introduce them to the master Teacher.” We have to remember to set aside our earthly identities (which we should be doing anyway to some degree) and put on our heavenly identity in Christ. Remember our true homeland instead of our temporary “home” on earth. Only then can we not only appreciate but come to embrace another culture.

As you can see, the first two chapters were complete fluff and not in ANY way convicting. (did you note the sarcasm dripping from that statement?) Again I say, wow.

One helpful tool in chapter two is a questionnaire and chart that helps you understand what your attitudes toward specific values is currently. How important do you view time? What importance do you place on finishing a task vs connecting with people? This is helpful to know now before I’m faced with conflict on the field. (OMG, I’m going to be “on the field.” Still surreal!) When frustrations crop up every great once in a while (hourly, whatevs) you can see what is bothering you and why before you blow up and cause damage. For someone who oftentimes tends to be, um. less than self-aware, this is a VERY helpful tool. All too often, I react to something without really finding the root of my reaction/frustration. Already, just today, this made a difference in my reaction to a situation.

*End Book Report – Begin Freakout*

Oy! There is so much to get done before I leave. I’m starting to wonder if it will get done. Luckily, I have some of my best people working on the ministry stuff. I’m trying to put together a good plan and have lots of great help on that. People with much more expertise in children’s ministry and what works. I’ll try to keep you updated on that, too.

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One Response to “Chapters 1&2”

  1. Nellie B. said

    I am so proud of you Rebecca. May the Lord be your deliverance. Give those children of God his love…

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