The gift of another culture

Shane Bennett publishes “Pratical Mobilization” monthly as a part, from what I can tell, of the Missions Catalyst ezine. It’s an evangelical all-points-bulletin of their efforts. I liked this segment, as far as it goes, from today’s issue entitled, “Give the Gift of Another Culture.”

Here’s the kicker: We are convinced that the time we spent in Holland and England was an amazing gift for our kids. They brought back much more than wooden shoes and a slight Yorkshire accent. They acquired a second language (to varying degrees). They learned that different people see life differently. They discovered that Pakistani kids can be your friends. They found that most of the Nigerians we hung out with were totally cool. And they had seeds of an idea planted in their minds that though they carry American passports, they could learn to feel at home in many parts of the world.

Let me be clear here: Holland and England are relatively easy places for Americans to live. We didn’t stay long. And, although most of our kids required some medical care while we lived there, none of them even approached “scary” sick.

There are few things in the world I would trade for that time. I think they’d say the same.

Above and beyond all this, the gift of another culture equips our children to carry on God’s global mission so that the gospel might penetrate further into the dark world of humanity. They have grown up bridging two cultures and have a notion that things cultural are but local expressions of basic needs, some in more decent and acceptable forms than others, that all humans have.

A language is the Babel-induced means of communication necessary to the social creature that is man. Foods, which we find palatable or not, nourish the body. Worldviews are fallible attempts at putting all the pieces together from broken frames of reference.

Some of those expressions won’t be acceptable for the Christian: some language should never cross a Christian’s lips, some types of dress won’t do, some behaviors result from sinful thoughts and motivations. But any culture contains the possibility of communicating the gospel.

A child who has been reared in two or more cultures has a better sense of the equality of all and the superiority of none as a means of communicating the Good News. They will therefore be able more easily to step from one culture to another to continue the mission.

That’s the real gift I think we give our children.

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