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3 big advantages that cross-cultural mission has over same-culture mission (no.1)

by on April 30, 2012

1) Cross-cultural mission Transforms the Messenger 

When you do cross-cultural mission, God changes you into the image of Jesus. 

That first time I touched down in Dhaka airport, I had high hopes of reaching Bangladeshis with the gospel. But crossing the cultural barriers was like stumbling through a thick cloud of smoke. I tripped over language obstacles. I waded through the alien food, foreign bowel-attacking bacteria, rock-hard beds, cold water-bucket showers. I picked myself up after humiliating cultural slip-ups. I was a pathetic ‘missionary’!

But this was the month, more than any in my life, that God changed me.

As I moved clumsily towards Bangladeshis, He shaped my heart to love sacrificially. To give up what I secretly thought I was entitled to. To rest on Him when culture stress had exhausted me. To have affection for people in their peculiarities, not just for their instantly endearing qualities.

That was how God changed me in the space of a month. What might He do if you invested yourself in cross-cultural mission for a life-time? 

Yes, same-culture mission can be hard too. But I’m not sure its hardships are as spiritually transformative per bead of sweat.

We’ve found in Canterbury that just speaking a word of encouragement to a Korean Christian who hardly speaks English, takes patience. Including a Hindu family in a dinner and prayer night when they just show up (true story!), requires a responsive, thoughtful love. And deep trust in God.

You might have found something similar, spending time with long-term unemployed, the intellectually disabled, the elderly – or pompous white Aussies like me! As you painfully move from your position of advantage to the feet of others, God is changing you. You’re learning the pattern of Jesus himself, ‘not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved’ (1 Cor 10:33).

Cross-cultural mission will make you more like Jesus. That’s one very good reason to do it.

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