• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Going ‘national’

Our World Team Ministry Framework highlights the ‘guiding principles’ by which we WT Ministry Framework Jan 2016live and minister as a global community.  One of the ‘guiding principles’ that is a new addition from our previous list of ‘values’ is: incarnational.

The descriptor for this guiding principle is as follows: “As cross-cultural workers, we intentionally surrender our rights to our home culture, language, and ways and embrace those of the host culture. By this, we seek to model Christ, who emptied Himself of the privileges and powers of divinity, taking on human form, in order to carry out His mission.”

Many voices were raised in favor of adding this guiding principle to our list.  The more I have mulled over it, the more I have come to understand why Ray and others kept putting it in front of us as so important.

Living incarnationally pushes us back to the example of Christ (Philippians 2).  Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, chose to take on cultural forms, language and habits.  He expressed himself with words that others could understand, in cultural forms that made sense to the people he was addressing.  He made the effort to ‘be like us’ and to accept this world as his ‘home’.  Yes, his ultimate ‘home’ was not here. Yet, he did not make others around him feel that he was keeping himself a stranger to the world in which he found himself.

The word that I find the hardest in this descriptor is: surrender. Not many of us like the sound of that word because it strikes at our feeling of entitlement.  We have seemingly ‘sacrificed’ a lot to go cross culturally, and believe there should be some small return as a result.  However, God asks us to lay it all down.  In the process of that surrender, we will experience blessings and benedictions we would not have shared otherwise.

One blessing that surely stands out is the experience of deep friendship in Christ across cultural boundaries; discovering that God has truly broken down the barriers that separate us from one another.

What’s in a name?

Ruth arrived in Israel with Naomi after quite a series of difficult circumstances. Ruth, seemingly, did not even take the time to unpack her suitcases before she set out to find ways to provide for their material needs.  She ended up gleaning, by sovereign design, in the field whats-in-a-name-bannerof Boaz, a potential kinsman redeemer (2:20)

What strikes me the most in this biblical narrative is that everyone knows about Ruth, without knowing Ruth.  In other words, in spite of her incredible work ethic, Ruth is consistently referred to as the ‘Moabite woman’ (2:6).  No one calls her, ‘Ruth’.

Ever feel that way in cross cultural ministry?  That somehow your defining quality is not ‘Steve’, ‘Heather’ or ‘Joy’?  That the words most likely to come out of a neighbor’s mouth are: “Oh, you’re looking for the ‘Czech guy’.  He lives two doors down.”  You can begin to feel like a name-less person without roots; a person just ‘passing through’ another culture.

Incarnational living starts with a choice. Incarnational living also calls for that same choice to be made daily.  That choice is to find my identity first and foremost in what Jesus says about me.  Despite how others around me may ‘label’ me, Jesus knows me and calls me by my name (Isaiah 43:1; John 10:3).

Knowing that my identity in solidly anchored in what He says about me, I can then move into my world with confidence and courage to ‘reach, invest, equip and release’ others. I can give all my effort daily to serve the people to whom He has called me because His voice rings in my ears throughout the day: “You are mine!  I have bought you with a price.  No one can snatch you out of my hand.”