How strong is your desire to make their language and cultural way of being yours?
This question is one of many I have been asked this past week and a half at Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado. Martha and I are here for a three-week cross-cultural course, which aims to provide practical skills for adjusting to life and ministry in a new culture. We are being challenged, encouraged, and convicted. I feel like the Lord is using this time to prune many of my branches.
I am beginning to see how my way of thinking, over eagerness, and proud heart can be an obstacle to understanding and integrating into Haitian culture. This past week we have discussed stress, lifestyle choices, conflict, spiritual rest and vitality, and value awareness to name a few topics. Each topic has opened my eyes to areas where I can grow and where I have strengths. There are many things I could share with you, however as I was thinking about how to summarize our training at MTI so far, one sentence came to mind; I am learning how to die to what I want or think is best.
As I consider what it means to exit my culture and enter another, I see more and more clearly my need for God. If He is not guiding this personal transformation, then I will eventually falter. I may survive for a time, but I cannot thrive in my ministry if I am not willing to cling to His goodness and truth.
How strong is my desire to make the Haitian language and cultural way of being mine? It is strong. Martha and I have received this call to serve the poor in Haiti. I am living into my passion! It is very strong. However, it may not be strong enough. That is, if I try to carry out this mission on my own.
One of our instructors this week said, “The key for successful personal relationships and ministry is to understand and accept others as having a viewpoint that is as worthy of consideration as yours.”
What a powerful statement! This requires putting aside my own ambition. This requires dying.
The idea of dying to oneself is not only for missionaries or cross-cultural workers. It is for anyone who is on the journey of following Jesus. We are reminded frequently at MTI that what you do now at home will likely carry over to our time serving overseas. If I am struggling with anger, my anger will not magically go away as soon as I get off the plane in Haiti! This simply shows that how we carry ourselves now truly matters and is a good indicator of where our heart is. Therefore, I challenge you to think about how you are doing in this area of saying no to yourself and yes to the call of service and integration and mutual understanding. We are all missionaries; we are just asked to go to different places.
I am so thankful for this place and to be challenged in these ways now.
Martha and I are having an awesome week. Aside from the good teaching, we are having so much fun getting to know the 30 plus other participants in our course. The fellowship is rich and genuine. We are grateful to see how God is equipping and sending out many people to serve and love others all over the world. Plus, we are in a beautiful place!
Pray for us this week that we will be able to process and unpack all that we are hearing. Thank you for your generosity, prayers, and partnership.