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A remarkable conversation

by on April 29, 2010

I spoke to someone today about how massively multicultural the Canterbury area is. She replied that she really enjoyed meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, and learning about their families and hearing their stories, and sharing her story with them. I told her of our plans for persistent, intentional, engagement with the people in our multi-ethnic area ( see our vision statement, point 10), and she said that sounded ‘very exciting’. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

Of the hundreds of people I’ve spoken to about joining our mission team, perhaps two have responded like that. Most feel quite daunted by the prospect of reaching out to ‘the other’. They know they should do it, they acknowledge the importance of the mission, and the urgency of the need – but they just don’t feel good about the idea, personally. Many feel afraid. I find I often have to conceal my excitement at the prospect of local, multi-ethnic engagement, so as not to seem unsympathetic towards people’s fears. But secretly, I just can’t wait to get to know the precious people of Canterbury, and bring Jesus to them.

The people I’ve been speaking to are good people, they love Jesus, they do want to reach out to their friends and neighbours. But they acknowledge that Canterbury is not an attractive proposition for them.

Why do you think so many feel so afraid? Why did this person today feel so differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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One Comment
  1. Lisa H permalink

    I’m daunted. Totally.

    I think for me the hesitation is the sense of awe I have for people who go to other countries and learn a foreign language and culture and slog it out on the mission field – I don’t see myself as having the gifts or energy for that when I feel I am not even very effective at witnessing to my own culture or to people I can easily understand. So I see cross-cultural ministry as something others might be more called to than me.

    What convinces me to join the Canterbury team despite this is that so few are already there, and my conviction that everyone on the planet should have a chance to respond to the gospel. While I am weak and faulty and low on gifts, I might still (by God’s grace) be better than nothing. How will they believe if they have not heard the gospel or seen it lived out? Perhaps by supporting others in the team I can help their gifts to be used.

    The lack of witness in that region, right next to where I live, makes me feel it’s not a matter of my personal preference or gifts but a gospel imperative to do whatever I can. I simply have no good reason not to at least try to reach the unreached. And in my mind this responsibility is even greater than my responsibility to soften those in my own anglo culture who generally have some opportunities but haven’t yet responded.

    I am also open to the possibility that working with other cultures might be hugely fun and rewarding and deepen my own faith.

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