This letter was written to me from a dear brother who is a major leader in a good size American church and current cross cultural missionary in Africa. Please read it slowly and carefully, then asking God our Lord how this affects you and your family.
Until you’ve lived outside the U.S. for awhile, you don’t fully realize how upside down everything is. I caught a glimpse of it on short-term mission trips, but I realize it fully now.
In America, things that are not at all important, are made to seem like they are very important. This is not just in the worldly culture surrounding the Christian, it is in the Christian culture. Other things that are very important are made to seem like they are insignificant.
Okay, you are probably wanting examples right now. Entertainment for example. Americans are entertained to death by sports and movies and TV and you name it. It is amazing how much of our society is consumed with entertainment. Entertainers make the most money of anybody in our culture for a good reason. We are HUGE entertainment consumers. That huge endeavor adds very, very little to anyone’s life. In the final analysis, it has almost NO long-term value even in a temporal society.
The rest of the world sees America as basically a frivolous, entertainment society.
On the other hand, relationships and the time it takes to build them well, are completely ignored by almost everyone in American society. We are in such a hurry to do all the unimportant things, that we don’t have time for the one thing that will go into eternity with us: other people.
Do you realize how hard it is to minister to people in America? You spend 90% of your time just trying to get people’s attention. Then the remaining 10% you try to minister to them. But do it quickly because they are checking their watch the whole time and thinking of the other 10 things they have to do today.
In Africa, it is completely the opposite. People can’t afford entertainment, they are trying to survive and put food on their table, if they even own a table. But Africa is a relational society. They understand taking time to get to know each other. In Africa, ministry is such a rewarding experience. You just show up and people are eager to listen.
Tonight I taught for the second week in a very poor church in a nearby squatter’s camp. The whole church showed up. They constantly want to know if I can possibly come more often and teach them the Bible. This is on the outskirts of the capital city of (city name), but it is like traveling around the world and depositing yourself into a tribal setting. These people are (tribe name).
One of the couple’s who I gave a ride home after it was over, told me this: “We have been waiting and praying for years for someone to come to teach us God’s Word. The last two weeks have taught me so much, you are such a blessing to us to come all the way from America to teach us about God.” Marc, you can probably guess how many times I have heard someone in America say something like that to me. That’s right. NEVER. It happens every week over here.
When I would return from short-term missions trips, I would always commit to myself, that I was going to make fundamental lifestyle changes. And then I found that it is almost impossible to lead a lifestyle that is swimming against the current of everything else in your culture, your Christian culture.
Rest is so important. It is a biblical standard. But Americans have absolutely no understanding of rest. Africans understand rest.
And so I finally decided to move to a place where life is already right side up: where important things are still important and unimportant things are unaffordable. And where you don’t have to be a Public Relations expert to draw a crowd of eager learners who will appreciate the gifts that God has given you to bless others.
Your brother in Christ
So, then, saint, what will you do personally in your own life – and to stem the flood in your church groups?
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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