Saturday, May 30, 2015

Forty Year Veteran Missionary

A single missionary working in Latin American called and asked, “I’ve been on the field 40 years, would your training have any benefit for me?”

I paused and stammered a bit.  I told her that I wouldn’t presume that I could teach anything to someone over 70 years old.  In the course of the conversation she told me she teaches in their Bible College teaching men and women preparing for the pastorate and cross-cultural missions.  At that point I told her, “Yes, absolutely, I believe you would benefit from such training.   “In fact,” I continued, “it’s possible that you will gain even more from the classes than those attending who have not yet been on the field.”

I was over 40 years old and had been in Kenya over ten years when I took my first courses in intercultural studies at Biola University.  In those classes in cultural anthropology, linguistics, cross-cultural communication and the dynamics of religious experience the lights went on for me because it was not just theory but life I experiencing in Africa.  It was because of those courses that I eventually focused my doctoral dissertation on how to best to plant churches to a specific people group.

Like many missionaries in my day, and still true today, my preparation for overseas work was limited to theology courses.  Good stuff, necessary for the task of ministry, but woefully lacking in how to take what I knew to a people group that were illiterate, tribal and animistic.  Thirty years later I am still learning how cultures work and how best to enter into a specific culture that is contextual and more culturally relevant. 

Whether you are new in mission work or a seasoned veteran, whether you are going to do youth work, train indigenous leaders or social work, no matter if your focus will be in the urban West or the backwaters of Asia, it is my belief that DOUBLE TIME will be worth your time and money.  Mark your calendar for August 25 -27 and go to this website for more information and registration.