Cultural sensitivity is vital to the effectiveness of your mission trip. Whether you’re going to the inner city or halfway across the world, the culture you are entering is different than your own. In our passage for today we saw Paul arrive in Athens at the Areopagus, which was the citadel of many Greek gods. It was the center for religious and educational matters in Athens. Standing in this amazing location, surrounded by philosophers, Paul masterfully and respectfully uses their own culture as an opportunity to share about the one true God.
There is no better way to experience another culture than to immerse yourself in it. When you arrive to your destination, how can you display cultural respect?
Mae shares three items she has learned over the years of taking cross-cultural trips:
Have humility – God is asking you to die to your pride. More than likely, you will be arriving to help in an established ministry. Your purpose is not to arrive on the scene and fix everything that is wrong with the local’s ministry. You’re there to support them and serve alongside them. Be an encouragement to them. Be a learner, not a knower.
Be loving – Remain loving in all areas and remember that serving others glorifies God. This may require you to be flexible with your schedule, your expectations, and your dreams. Other cultures will do thing differently. Instead of complaining, seek to understand and learn why they do things that way. Pray and ask God to teach you how important flexibility is in His work.
Be teachable – When you arrive, you may experience culture shock. In fact, there will likely be a stark contrast between your daily life and theirs. You may see poverty in a brand new way and it will break your heart. Concentrate on being a learner of the culture, so you can understand and grow. Ask God to prepare you and help you serve Him wholeheartedly.
God, I understand that I may experience culture shock when I arrive in a few days. I may feel lost and overwhelmed by what I see. Make my heart pliable so I can learn. Help me make an effort to understand my surroundings. As I enter this new culture, give me eyes to see where you are already at work. May I join You there.
Think It Through: