This week things got real. I received my team manual. It contains 68 pages of instructions, descriptions, packing lists and do’s and don’ts. It took me several days to read it as it was a little overwhelming. Every time I started reading I would feel a mixture of fear, trepidation, excitement, satisfaction and general nerves. It was a lot of feelings at once. Today I came to last page and this is what I read:
I Corinthians 13 Adapted
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 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.
Love does not boast about the way we do it back home,
Love does not seek his own ways,
Is not easily provoked into telling about
The beauty of his home country,
Love does not think evil about the culture.
Love bears all criticism 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.
We know only part of the culture and
We minister to only part of the culture.
But when Christ 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 things remain:
Cultural adaptation, language study and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
I wish I had had this written on the wall of my hut in Guinea. What a great reminder of the reason behind why we make this commitment and journey to the other side of the world.