Monday, January 17, 2011
I think I'm a bad missionary
Let me explain. This is not to beat on myself. I have been so blessed to be a part of a team of missionaries here in Guatemala. We are a discipleship team and we get together once a month and meet. We share our lives, our challenges, we pray for each other, and we eat together. It is my favorite time each month.
Well, one of the couples works primarily with Indigenous Mayans in a village context. (No shopping malls, no grocery stores, no pizza delivery, etc) They have been truly immersed in the Mayan culture and have been forced to be learners. They have been humbled, taught, corrected, abused, neglected, loved. The following came from a conversation that we had with them at our last team meeting.
Before coming to the field, Brandon and I had a total of 7 weeks of intensive training. We learned about entering into a new culture. We learned about how to seek out and be learners, how to NOT be that missionary that comes in and tells all these people what they need to know. It is a lot more complicated than that sounds, but it basically entails dying to your own culture and accepting the people for who they are. It means that you try as best you can to forget the American way of doing things and to keep an entirely open mind. It means not criticizing the bizarre things of the new culture just because your intellectual, enlightened western mind knows better. It is about judging right and wrong solely based on scripture, and not how you were taught before you arrived.
That is where I have failed. Essentially, I have done it all wrong. I have been so arrogant in "my" way of doing things. I have told people how silly it is that they think that you can get air out of your tummy by putting a lit candle on coin placed on your abdomen and then covering it with a glass. I have told them how you can't really get sick from the cold. I have told them that it is impossible for cold to seep up through your feet and enter your lungs and make you sick. I have told them that walking over a hose won't cause your baby's umbilical cord to strangle them. I have told them...informed them...educated them. Why, might you ask? Basically, because I know better. So, so foolish. Do I really? It just seemed so natural at the time.
I may have alienated people because of my arrogance. I hope not. I hope that God can use my contrite apologies to humble me in their eyes.
I repent. I repent of my "know it all because I'm an educated American" attitude. I want to be a better listener, a better learner. Why? So that I can reveal Christ. So that they can see in me something that they desire, not despise.
Pray for me as I live this out with the help and grace of Jesus Christ. It is not by my own efforts that God will bring people to himself, but, Lord willing, by my humility and the work of Christ in me.