The greatest of these is love

Today was a wonderfully relaxing day – finally. This week has been pretty tough mentally – a lot of things to work through and think about. So far, CIT has been more about bringing up more questions and not really answering a whole lot for us! We’re getting a lot of tools so we’ll know how, but not a lot of just blatant black and white answers that we were hoping for. So, today, instead of just giving us more stuff to think about, they decided to kind of put it into context. We spent the morning talking about how everything you say, do, sing, smell, etc., is filtered and interpreted by everyone you meet. Therefore, it’s extremely important to know how you’re coming across! Especially in another culture. So, everything we’ve been studying this week was brought down to – how do YOU want to come across? Culturally ignorant – or full of love?

At the end of class, we watched the whole live Steven Curtis Chapman concert where he brings out Steve Saint and the Waodoni Indian who helped murder the men in the ’50’s who were trying to reach them (Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, etc.). The entire purpose for having us watch this video clip was to help remind us of WHY we’re doing this. No one has twisted or arms. No one is making us go. This is our choice. This is our personal calling from God. But, why are we obeying? Can we say with Jim, Nate, Ed, and the rest of them that we truly LOVE the people we are called to minister to and that they are WORTH dying for? Is the Gospel message still just as urgent? Can we honestly leave behind family and life and risk our lives for a people we’ve never met who completely different from us? It all comes back to love.

Our instructor this week has been reading missionary versions of 1 Corinthians 13 and I thought I would share my favorite one with you. It really sums up everything we’ve been studying since we’ve gotten here.

1 Corinthians 13 – A Guide to Culture

“If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock his accent; Love does not envy those who stayed home; Love does not exalt his home culture; is not proud of his national “superiority,” does not boast about the way we do it back home, and does not seek his own ways. Is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of his home country, does not think evil about this culture. Love bears all criticsm about his home culture, believes all good things about this new culture; confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures all inconveniences. Love never fails; but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is contextualization it will lead to syncretism; where there is linguistics, it will change. For we know only part of the culture and we minister to only part. But when Chirst is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant. When I was in America, I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American; but when I left America, I put away American things. Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly; but He will live in it intimately; Now I speak with a strange accent, but He will speak to the heart. And now these three remain: cultural adaption, langague study, and love. But, the greatest of these is love.”

-Unknown Author via a missions worker in the Ukraine regarding cross-cultural endeavors.

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