What would you identify as the biggest challenge facing the current generation of new missionaries coming out from Western countries?
LFTF: Episode 12
My answer probably isn’t going to be very popular, however, I think it’s also a challenge that each generation has dealt with before us. Our Western culture continues to escalate towards comfort and towards being motivated by self, producing as C.S. Lewis said, “Idols of the heart,” and our new missionaries are coming over with more and more of that. It’s really hard to be in our culture and not come out of it untainted and I think sometimes we don’t even realise how much of our culture is on us as we arrive into a new country. Comfort is a hard thing to want to let go of. It’s something that many missionaries will be willing to let go of because they want to be simple, they want to meet the needs of the people. However, there’s other things that are good things. I think family, some relationships, some things that we have to let go of or hold more loosely than we did before and following the example of Christ, I think we have that example to hold those things loosely, to live with an incarnational principle and to let things go when He calls us to let them go and that’s not a popular view. In that line of thinking as well is Facebook. I know a lot missionaries are going to countries now where we have internet access and ways to keep in touch with our cultures at home and while this is really good on some levels, I don’t think we’ll know the effects of that for five or ten years, what it’s doing to our mission and our missionaries and their cross-cultural relationships because what it does is it ties us back constantly. We used to go into the bush and you’d have nothing but a radio so you cut all your ties, you don’t look back. You look for those times every six months where you can come out and contact people again and it helped you. It helped you to emerge and to evolve and to become like that culture. Now, even in the most remote tribes in the area where we work, you can get internet, you can get Facebook, so you’re constantly keeping up with that other culture and so you’re constantly trying to live in two worlds and I think we don’t do 100% because of that.