“If you don’t feel AWKWARD, you’re not changing or growing.”
One morning toward the end of our time at CIT, the classroom was set up with groups of tables and chairs around the classroom. Each table had a certain number of cards on it with instructions on how to play a 4-person Euchre or Rook-style card game. We settled into our groups and began play. After sometime, we were instructed that we could no longer talk and the winners would progress to the next table. Little did we know that each table had different rules!
When we enter into another culture, all of the rules and societal norms that we are used to change. The task of cultural adjustment will begin with getting off the plane with the language skills of a toddler attempting to learn how to be an adult all over again in a new place. Awkward.
Even though people like us who have served in youth ministry usually have a high tolerance for awkwardness, this out-of-placeness always compounds over time and creates cultural stress. In the midst of this awkwardness and stress, God will have ample opportunities to teach and transform us.
One of our facilitators, a former missionary himself, reflected on the “awkwardness” of the missionary endeavor… Missionaries in their first term are infants in their new language skills and barely know how to shop for groceries on their own… Yet this is the method God has chosen for his cross-cultural mission. Truly, “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
“I wait for the LORD, my whole-self waits;
I hopefully wait in His word.” (Psalm 130:5)
One of my former youth ministry interns recently preached a sermon on Psalm 130. He reflected on how we as 21st century Americans are not very good at waiting. Typically, if we play our cards right, we can go days and days without ever having to spend a single moment waiting.
COVID-19 has caused many of us to do a lot of uncomfortable waiting. Thankfully “normal” seems to be at least on the horizon here in the U.S. But unfortunately, this is not the case for many countries in Asia where this pandemic is still raging and vaccines are in short supply.
One of the questions we get asked daily by well-meaning folks is: “When are you leaving?”, or even, “I thought you all were already gone, when did you get back?”
It’s understandable. Cori Beth and I began our journey with YMI back in 2017 and until the pandemic it was a steady march forward through seminary and support raising. The expectation of linear “progress” is an expectation that God has been prying from our hands throughout this season of waiting.
In March of 2020 we were nearly ready to launch, and right at that moment the pandemic hit, and our host country closed its borders, and still remains closed indefinitely. Considering all of this we kind of feel like we’re stuck in the waiting room at the doctor’s office when our appointment was 3 hours ago. And now we’re the kids tapping on the receptionist’s glass asking if it’s our turn yet.
But through all of this, the Lord has been so good to us. We are well provided for and growing in this season of waiting. Creative doors for remote service have opened to us through our Map The Movement project, online language school, and new partnership opportunities for the future.
The Lord never wastes time. We know our Father has brought us this far and goes to the field before us.
Please continue to pray for our host country in Asia as they fight this pandemic, for our contentment in the waiting room, and that a path to Asia might open for us as we knock on the glass.
We ask you pray with us concerning the following: