Tag: Crossing Cultures

Chinese Students in the West

Over the past two decades, the number of students leaving mainland China to study abroad increased from 39,000 in 2000 to 662,100 in 2018. Chinese students form a large share of international students in many countries including the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom (East Asia Forum). Among these are nearly 370,000 Chinese students in the U.S. Apart from the immediate educational impact on these students, it is also an extremely important income stream for Western universities, indeed the financial stability of some of them could be threatened if there is a severe change of direction. But there is one area of high importance to Christians, which is that significant numbers of these students have found faith in the Lord Jesus during their time overseas.

But in the “new normal” (or non-normal) of the Covid-19 era, that trend may be about to change. “A British Council survey of 11,000 Chinese students over March–April 2020 found that 13 per cent were unlikely to return to study overseas, 22 per cent were likely to cancel their study plans and 39 per cent were undecided.”

One reason is whether the Chinese Middle Class will be able to pay high level student fees at foreign universities with the post Covid-19 economic slowdown.

Another compounding factor is that the Trump administration ordered that “international students who are pursuing degrees in the USA will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities have on-line courses”. Some schools, including Harvard and the University of Southern California, are opting for online-only instruction. More recently that US government order was reversed, but the situation is not clear.

At the same time the battle over China’s Confucius Institutes has not helped. “A US bipartisan report in 2019 blasted Confucius Institutes at more than 100 US universities as too strictly controlled by China and a threat to academic freedom.” In 2018 there were 548 institutes and nearly 2,000 Confucius classrooms in 154 countries, most of them at foreign universities or institutions. Beijing is now abandoning its Confucius Institute brand after a global backlash over censorship, switching to a new look as a centre for “language exchange and cooperation”. But in the current climate suspicions are high regarding China’s attempts to influence education and government in Western nations.

Then there is the fallout from the Hong Kong situation and other China-related issues. POST Magazine spoke of New York’s 2,300 Chinese students who attend the University of Rochester, 19 per cent of its student body. “Tunnel wars” broke out, with Chinese students of different political loyalties “using the university tunnels, which were built to allow warm passage between buildings during frigid winters, as a focal point for campus political discourse, and over the preceding few months the discourse has been ugly.”

Pray for wisdom for Western leaders in dealing with student visas from China and other lands in a very complex and hostile new world order.

Pray for the Lord to be working in the hearts and minds of Chinese students in a new way.

Pray for the Chrstian ministries that seek to reach out to Chinese students, to care for them and win them to Christ.

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Crossing Cultures 101

We have just launched our most recent course Crossing Cultures 101! It’s free to complete and consists of 3 online modules with several lessons in each, to be completed in your own time.

This is the course we wish we could have done before starting our missionary journeys - and, after learning a lot of things the hard way, it’s the course we would recommend to you!

Crossing Cultures 101, as the name suggests, is a very basic introduction to the subject of what it takes to move into a new culture and thrive there. In a sense it is so basic that it will probably raise more questions than it answers. But that might just be helpful! Better to start having the conversation before you go than to be shocked when you get there by issues you were not expecting.

We know from personal experience that having sufficient support and training is vital to thriving on the mission field. Our concern is that across the world, there are many who are setting off without those very things. This course won’t give specific help for adjusting to the actual culture you are moving to, but it will give a lot of general principles that will apply in any crossing-culture experience.

We think there are three different groups that would benefit from doing this course…

Firstly, those who feel called to go and are just beginning to research their way to finding out what is involved. I’d like to think this course would give you the basics and cover, with broad brushstrokes, the things you need to know as you begin to embark on this journey.

Secondly, those who have already set out on the journey and are discovering, perhaps the hard way, that there are a whole host of things you had not thought about before you left. For your encouragement, both Ross and I started out this way, with no cultural training, and we at separate times had to learn everything the hard way. We wish there had been a course like this that we could have done back in the day! It certainly would have helped.

And thirdly, our target is the churches that are sending folk out – for those churches to know, if they don’t already, what it takes to support those they send out well. If you fit the role of a sender rather than a go-er, you may prefer to skip the first two modules and focus only on the third. But on the other hand, doing the first two modules might also help you understand what those who have gone out are experiencing when they go through culture shock, for example, not knowing what has hit them. Finding that this is a normal part of the process of cultural adaptation will help mitigate the concern you might otherwise feel as you hear about their struggles. They will need your understanding to help them push through and come out reasonably intact the other side!

So that’s it - three modules, about 13 lessons in total, taking only about six hours to complete! There are other free courses on the site that you can also sign up for (go to: https://courses.fieldpartner.org/courses), and more will added in time. We will be there in support as well, and, in addition, we’d love to see fellow students form a cohort amongst themselves, providing mutual support and encouragement.

If you are reading this and you fit any of the categories mentioned above, I’d like to invite you to sample the course and give us your feedback in the box below. Or, if you know anyone else to whom it might apply, please forward the link to them as well.

Thank you for your interest and welcome to FieldPartner!

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Five things I wish I had known

A while ago my husband and I were talking with a friend about the huge task that faces us in setting up an online training school. In the course of about an hour’s conversation, Eric asked a telling question. He said,

“Ross, Christine – looking back over your several decades of experience in international living – and granted the fact that you didn’t receive any cross-cultural training before you went – what would you say now are the top five things you wish you had known before you went to Asia?”

Wow – what a great question!

Below is my own considered answer. For me, this list actually encapsulates the substance of a basic course I have constructed, called Crossing Cultures 101. These issues I am talking about now are some of the topics that are covered in this course. And let me just say here, if you would like to come on board for that course – or if what I say in these few moments resonates with you in any way, please do sign up! It’s totally free to join.

Click here to access the Crossing Cultures 101 course for free!

OK so let’s drill into this: Five things I wish I had known before I went!

1. The best time to build a strong foundation is at the beginning!

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But when it comes to life, ‘stuff’ often just happens, and sometimes good planning does not! Perhaps we only realise later that a bit more time taken early on, along with a lot more good input received from others, could have helped us build a stronger foundation for our marriages or our ministries. Looking back, Ross and I regret that we didn’t take time out at the time we got married to do some of our adjusting to each other in our own culture first. But we were young and zealous, Ross had already been in Taiwan for six years by then and was fully involved in student ministry, and I had two years of full-time language study facing me before we could start a family… We thought we didn’t have time for that, and besides, it was complicated by other commitments. However cultural adaptation, on top of marriage adjustment, were about to take a huge toll on us. If only we had realised how it was going to be and taken it slower!

2. More than we often realise, we are the products of our own cultures – and that can create unforeseen problems in the new culture.

The first module in my course focuses on this topic at some depth and, if you come with me, we’ll be checking out our assumptions and beliefs about the ‘right’ way to do things. Often, we are completely unaware of how our own socialisation influences the way we do life and the value judgements we make about others who do life differently. This shows up hugely when we arrive in a new culture.

Here are some danger signs to watch out for:

  • A tendency to reject what is ‘different’ from the way it is at home.
  • Wanting to enforce our own ways of doing things as ‘correct’.
  • Above all, we need to watch out for the things we tend to criticise or ridicule in the new culture…

3. The new culture will impact me too in distinct ways – that’s what’s known as Culture Shock.

In Module Two of my course I depict the whole cultural adaptation process as navigating a path between two mountain peaks – one being my own culture, where I belong and feel comfortable and the other being the new culture, which is at yet a mystery. In between these two peaks there is a valley, involving pitfalls and dangers and sheer hard slog. This is Culture Shock.
Not everyone navigates this valley successfully, but yet, the challenge of it can be an adventure that draws you on. In the course we will talk quite a bit about the anatomy of culture shock and what it takes to navigate through it.

And then there is Reverse Culture Shock (or Re-entry Stress) to navigate through as well, when returning home. This too is a ‘real thing’, but often more shocking because it is not anticipated! People assume that going back to their home culture after an assignment in a different culture will be completely straight forward and nothing to worry about. After all – are we not just returning home? Well, yes – but in the same way as you can never step into the same river twice (as the philosopher said!), you will be a different person after all you have been through, and the people and situation you are returning to will also have changed. That can make for some unwelcome surprises, which it is good to be prepared for. There will be a lesson in Module Two that deals with this issue as well.

4. I need support for my endeavour of navigating a new culture. Where and how can I find that? (We will be looking at much of what is involved in this in Module 3)

This brings us full circle to the first issue – how vital it is to build a good foundation and prepare well for our endeavour before we leave. That includes having good closure with those we leave behind and building a strong support base at the sending end. Why? Because we need to stay connected with those who know us well and are sending us out. We need their support and understanding, to involve them on our journey and keep them on side in what we are going through.
Here is one thing we strongly advocate for anyone going into another culture: find a core group of friends and family members who are willing to support you on this venture, be a sounding board for you and provide encouragement when you are struggling. They will be worth their weight in gold!
And look for support in other quarters too:

  • A culture coach maybe – someone who is ahead of you in the crossing culture journey and can give you some valuable tips.
  • Local friends who will explain the inexplicable and help you gradually to understand. If you are open and willing, they will be an invaluable resource.
  • A community of like-minded people who can encourage you.

Hopefully you will find that in the place where you are serving. But what if you don’t? This is where we in FieldPartner hope that we can continue to help, by providing an on-line community: others who may be at a different stage and are probably working in a different culture from you, but who can still encourage you and cheer you on.

5. Your choices impact your children in countless ways!

Of course you may not have kids, but if you do, you need to know they experience this journey very differently from you. Kids have the capability to ‘enter’ a culture and learn a language much more easily than their parents, but they may also feel deeply the loss of their former life. They may blame you for the discomfort and disorientation they are feeling. Embracing a new culture may come more easily to them, but going through that process will also permanently alter their identity. From now on life for them, even more than for you, will never be the same. So in Module 3 on my course, we will also be looking at terms like Third Culture Kid and Global Nomad, helping you (I hope) to think through the implications of your choice to move abroad as it might impact on your kids.

There are some definite upsides to this, but also some very real challenges. We will be looking at what some of those are.
OK so there you have it in a nutshell! Five things I wish I had known before I went. In actual fact, I didn’t know half of this for many years, but that is a story for another time!

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The Antioch Factor

5 talks of The Antioch Factor

In these 5 talks Ross shares his life’s message. He shares concerning what the Bible says about cross cultural mission being the heart of God’s plan for the church, especially focusing on the book of Acts and the early church. God has used this teaching in the US, Africa, India and Asia - where churches have adopted this teaching in Bible schools and essential training of believers.

The Antioch Factor #1
The first talk is a basic introduction. Ross starts with Acts 1:8 to show that Jesus divided the world into 4 different territories, and every church should involve in each of these 4 regions. But often we ignore the difficult one, “the ends of the earth”, even though Jesus told us to reach peoples who are different from us. This is a unique opportunity to think this matter through before the Lord.

The Antioch Factor #2
Ross in this second talk in the series looks at more verses from the New Testament, to show that cross cultural mission is a key part of the Bible's teaching from Genesis to Revelation. He then begins to look at the church in Jerusalem. He comes up with a very surprising conclusion which may shock you! Listen on to find out what that conclusion is!

The Antioch Factor #3
God gave the Jerusalem church 3 great chances in Acts chapters 8-11 to understand His global agenda, but they did not. Ross asks the question “am I communicating to you the strength of resistance to the Gospel going to the ends of the earth?” Ross then shows how God birthed the church in Antioch to move with that global agenda.

The Antioch Factor #4
Ross stresses eight key elements that make up the Antioch church. He states that Antioch churches do not grow up by accident or naturally, rather like weeds in the garden. We have to be intentional in making sure these elements are in play in our churches.

The Antioch Factor #5
Ross continues to stress that Antioch churches do not happen by accident. He gives more elements that need to be in play for us to become an Antioch church today, sending folk out and supporting folk to reach the nations.

Antioch Factor Infographic (PDF)

Antioch Factor Infographic (PNG)

This course is for you if...

You are not yet involved in cross-cultural mission and are not even sure if it is "for you":

  • You have no idea what the expression “cross-cultural mission" means.
  • You want a Biblical basis for cross-cultural mission.
  • You feel that God just wants you involved in a local church and nothing else.
  • You want to understand how God sees church and views the world. What are His priorities?

If you are already in the mission field and…

  • Are needing your vision and call refreshed.
  • Want to help your friends back home to “get the vision” and to stand with you.

 If you are from a sending church and...

  • Want to know why those ‘pesky’ people keep talking about God’s work overseas?
  • Have to help those the church is sending, but are not sure how to do that or even why to do that!

If you think this course is for you, click here to check it out.

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Preparing for Cross Cultural Missions

1. How is your walk with the Lord? how are you doing with the Lord?

Often I think of a dear friend of mine who, many years ago, was involved with me in work into China. He was doing quite well and then he said to me one day, “I want to go home.” And I said, “No, no, no. Dig into the Lord. Spend time with the Lord. Get a hold of the Lord see what the Lord is saying to you.” and essentially a few days day he said, “No I want to go home.”

So the first thing is, and that's before you go, it's not after you go:
How's your relationship with the Lord Jesus?
Do you know him personally, but more than that are you walking with him day by day?

Our habit is when we get up in the morning (and I’m speaking to you from the Far East, it doesn't look like it because I got a sweater on but it's a brief really cold time. Actually, the locals here they keep saying to me, “Oh is so cold they got coats on.” I say, “It’s cold. It’s not so cold.” because I'm a Brit and have some idea what really cold is (actually from Scotland). So number one, you walk with the Lord. How are you doing with the Lord?

2. Do you have a clear sense of call or vision?

Do you know that the Lord has spoken to you? (Now Brad is going to deal with this in another talk in this group so I'm not going to go into that at length.) But are you sure that the Lord has called you? Can you stand on that call?

3. Do you belong to a Missions Based Church - a church it actually believes in mission?
Don't tell anyone that I say this, but a lot of churches actually don't believe in cross cultural work. They don't believe in sending people away from their local area. They may be doing an absolutely fantastic job locally, and there's so much we can learn for them. But they don't teach us and inspire us with a vision to reach people of other cultures, other nations. Do you go to a mission based prayer meeting? Now I'm not saying for a minute, “leave your church.” For what I am saying is, “Find that prayer meeting. Find that mission group that you can pray with, that you can share with.”

4. Have you ever read or studied books about missionaries or the history of missions?

See you may say, “God has called me. I'm going to change Ethiopia -- Or I don’t know, any country you care to mention -- I'm going to change them.” Have you read a few read books about Hudson Taylor, and (William) Carey, and (David) Livingstone, and other men and women of God whose adventures and struggles and the rest of it, are there for us to learn about? Have you read those books? Please do. One of my classics was David Brainerd who was, if you like, a “cross-cultural missionary “to the indigenous people of the United States many years ago. Carey again as I say, Hudson Taylor - these men and women of God, we can learn so much from them.

5. Do you have a Friendship circle that’s conducive to mission?

I think of a group that my parents used to meet every year - just socially at Christmas time - and you’re going abroad what are you, going to do? Well that’s alright. Many people will look at you that way. Many people forty-eight years afterwards, he asked some people quite close to me, “What does he do?” They wouldn't have any idea, I don’t think. but I'm asking, “Do you have group of friends who have that same passion as you? That will be iron sharpening iron?” If you don't, if you’re a student in your student world, if you're a church member and your church world, find others who have that same calling.

6. Next, have you ever talked to a missionary on the field?

Have you ever contacted with a missionary on the field? I know there are some closed countries where that might be difficult, but have you ever done that? It's a good thing to do. Get a hold of a missionary team. They may be too busy to talk to you, but finally…

7. Then go on short-term mission trip.

Go on a short-term cross-cultural trip, that'll take you. I, as a Cambridge student, God had called me to serve as a cross-cultural worker. This is in the 1960s and I went with operation mobilization to Eastern Europe, and I finished in Russia actually at a time when Russia was really pretty tight. That mission trip did as much to confirm my calling, as the actual call itself did. Which I’ll talk about another time. Is that something that you've ever considered doing? Because it will change your life, one way or the other.

No. 1 Do you have a worldview that goes beyond your culture?

How do you do in a supermarket when you meet someone with a completely different culture and background? How do you do in the office, train, school or wherever, if you meet someone who is totally different. Do you say, why are you not the same as me, or can you embrace, are you culturally open and adaptable. If you go cross cultural, it's their culture not yours. You are not there to change them culturally as a cross culture worker. You maybe there to work with the orphans, preach, teach, work with poor but you are working with their culture and you are not there to change their culture by imposing yours.

Kingdom culture, the culture of Jesus, yes, but not your culture. Where their culture is not hostile to scripture, can you manage, can you handle that, it is really difficult. If I was doing more than 7-8 minutes quick learn I would tell you a lot but will do as well. So come to us and see us in FieldPartner, come and see us in our website. We will flash it up at the beginning and end.

No.2 Friendship with foreign students if you are a student.

Being with people of different culture. Not just meeting with them but befriending them. can you sit down with them, can you accept what they do, can you respect them. Are you always saying, well, why are these people behaving that way, because they are not the same as you or as me. So do you have those friends, do you have people you have coffee or tea with?

No. 3 Studying about the country of other people you gonna work with

Have you ever done that? You say God has called me to work in Mongolia, well, do you know anything about Mongolia, do you know what it is like, do you know what they believe, eat, their strength and weaknesses? Am not telling you to read a whole story of Mongolian restraint, but have studied them?

No. 4 Current Christian activities

Am I in any way witnessing, serving, discipling. Am not asking if you read the bible, I hope you do because you really need to. That ought to be my first talk. But are you someone who is really drawing people to Jesus Christ. We often say, getting on an aeroplane does not change you and that’s a fact. What is going to change you is what you are doing now.

No. 5 Your vision and calling

No. 5 This is really good, really tricky. I will say it in Chinese (Chinese) “ first you have your vision, your calling on your life then you have your opposite number, your beloved”. What do I mean, if you are in beginning several relationships, fellow with a girl or girl to fellow, you will feel God has called me to cross cultural work, and that person you are getting fond of say (Chinese words) which is a very rude expression for” take a hike”. If they say that, you need to face out to what is going on, because probably it will cost your calling if you go on into marriage and so on. The reverse is true. My wife who has a call to mission in her own life, Brian and Jane, there is an advantage when they are there with you step by step. So, have you considered that if the fellow or girl you are keen on. Are they walking the same way.

No. 6 Your gifts and temperaments.

What do you like in terms of gifts and temperaments, because one of the things is that you get stretched, someday once put it to me that, you are stretched so wide you could read a newspaper. What is your gift and temperament like, are you adaptable, are you able to face what is going to come that is the period you really struggle with culture, activities with this or that and you can say, I can handle that. How are you doing now in your church situation? Are you the one always colliding with people, then I suggest a period of discipleship in your local church might be the best.

No. 7. Finally, relationship and team works.

Same idea, how do you do team work. How do you do in working with other people. How do you do about serving the Lord together in a worship group, evangelistic team, in putting the chairs together. Are you the one always saying no, do it my way? Please if you not do a team a work, it is sad to say but many of cross cultural workers fail not because of other people they are working with . we know, certain nations that if you put nation A and nation B together you gonna have fireworks. How do you make them work in a team. Particularly, realizing that the people you are working with maybe a completely different culture, not the people you are trying to reach but people on the cultural team when you go and work there.

- Team at FieldPartner

If you found this post helpful, do check out our Crossing Cultures online course.

P.S. You can download this article as an infographic. Check it out:

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PDF)

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PNG Image)

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Brad’s 23 keys To Being A healthy Cross Cultural Missionary

How to be a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary?

Here are some keys I've picked up over the years of being a cross cultural missionary. I have seen many folk come and go on the mission field, and so I wanted to share these keys to help you start and finish well.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. We will only recommend resources that we have personally read through and have found useful in our journey in mission work.

Spiritual Keys

Trust God

Why grumble when you can trust God? Is He not more than able to do above and beyond all that we ask or even think?

Resist temptation.

Whenever you are tempted, cry out to God for the strength to resist. After a while the devil will get fed up and leave you alone until another time. Don’t forget, you are most vulnerable to temptation after a major success, so be on your guard!

Study the Scriptures.

Missionaries need to pay careful attention to both their exegetical work and their hermeneutical efforts. Studying the Scriptures is primary work that needs to be done, and ought not to be cut short by pressing needs. Set apart time to study and meditate the Bible on a regular basis! If you need a book to help you, I strongly recommend Gordon Fee: How to Read the Bible for all its Worth

Read missionary books.

There are some books that ought to be on every missionary bookshelf: Roland Allen’s: St. Paul’s Methods or Ours is a classic. Foundational to community development is Brian Fikkert’s book: When Helping Hurts. For building faith, read missionary biographies. When I met Richard Wurmbrand, the advice he gave me was: “Write down all of the illustrations you can – keep a diary of your experiences in God. They will all come in handy one day.”

Keep notes about the major things God does in and through your life.

We all tend to forget details over the years, and looking back at God’s faithfulness to you personally is major encouragement – one of the ways to encourage yourself in the Lord!

Have a file of illustrations

that God has shown you during your walk in life – small observations that leave an impression. You will find them helpful, not only as good sermon illustrations; they are powerful motivators for you personally! Remember, the parables are stories from daily life that Jesus uses in a powerful way!

Don’t forget the fundamentals,

like preaching and meditating on the cross, the blood of Jesus, the value of communion, baptism, vows, loving and trusting God in all things. Preach and teach such things, and do not be concerned about repeating yourself, let the Holy Spirit do His work by confirming your words.

Don’t forget to pray in tongues.

It is a valuable resource that Father has given us in order for us to be built up in our faith. Pray often in the Spirit!

Make sure you balance your time as a cross cultural missionary!

Balance your personal life, home and family life along with your ministry work. Allow time for the unexpected on your calendar! Don’t forget to plan in time to do your planning – away from the stress of your daily routine. Maintain a casual hobby and do some sort of sports, read a book at least once a month, and take an annual vacation. When you work, work with diligence and to the best of your ability.

Frame your goals,

Ask three questions:

  1. What would your work look like if your dream or vision became a reality?
  2. What is the vision statement that you need to phrase?
  3. How do we get there?

Pace yourself.

Burn out is the modern term for weariness in the Scriptures. One of the main causes of burnout is doing things God has not required you to do – in your own strength. Stop doing those things, and get renewed before you begin to work again. Sabbaticals are more than just a good idea, they are valuable to keeping our spiritual health.

Learn to ask for help.

The problem with asking for help in our ministry is our reluctance to actually frame the asking question. James says, ‘you have not because you ask not’. It is how we ask which makes the difference. One thing I have learned is that when you ask, ask someone in particular if they would like to invest in the Kingdom work you are involved in, and then wait for them to answer. However they answer, be grateful for their consideration.

Focus on character.

Mark Rutland writes (in Character Matters): Character is a composite of virtues and values. When we raise the banner of the Kingdom of God, we need to raise our character for all to see!

Beware of a haughty attitude.

In some cultures, they exalt those of white skin and in others despise them. But often they are tolerated for their perceived riches and ability to bring wealth. It is a deadly trap to lose sight of your servant heart and purpose. Remember, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Go for grace every time!

Learn to debrief.

One of the things that the Moravian missionaries did was to write their autobiography when they came home at the end of their time of service. It was a requirement for all missionaries before they died to write their memoirs. I think it is a very helpful way to debrief after a lifetime of cross cultural ministry, and it becomes inspiration to others who will follow in your footsteps. Keep that in mind and make notes from which you write your own memoirs.

Inform people about what you do,

do not frame your work in generalities. Let folks be a part of your life by giving them specific illustrations. Tell the story and let people become involved in the growing excitement you have for what God is doing in and through you!

Learn how to correct others.

In correction don’t forget there are always two things that need to happen: Forgiveness and Restoration. Just because forgiveness occurs in an instant through the blood of Jesus, character formation does take longer. Make sure that the pattern of sin is broken and has been replaced with a habit of righteousness.

Do not neglect leadership training.

Training local leaders has got to be a priority along with preaching the gospel. Both are desperately needed in this world. Examine from time to time what you do and how you are doing it. Keep yourself abreast of leadership training materials. Implement what you have learned quickly and be open for feedback from those you are teaching.

Equip and empower your people

by giving them real authority and real decision making abilities. When they mess up, help them put it right. Remember, mercy triumphs over judgment!

Be practical.

There are a lot of practical things associated with being a missionary. Hygiene is one of those things. Pay attention to your own personal hygiene. Keep yourself clean. Keep your house and vehicle clean. Take care of your possessions, and the possessions of others. If you break something that belongs to someone else, pay for it. If you borrow a car, at least pay for the gas you use. Build trust by being thoughtful and considerate.

Be a good guest.

When visiting friends for a longer period of time, be sure to make yourself useful by doing things that you can see need to be done. Offer to help, and don’t be afraid to get dirty! Leaders who can and do serve in practical ways are greatly admired. When you leave a home you have been staying in, let them want you to come back because you were an easy guest to have.

Teach about finances.

There is more to understanding and teaching in ‘Kingdom Finances’ than just ‘giving’. Though generosity is foundational to the nature of God, He is also the One who gives us the will and strength to work. Teach that along with the Scriptures that speak of saving, living debt free and providing for your family, building wealth in a godly way with a vision to invest in the Kingdom of God.

Remember to whom you are accountable.

cross cultural missionaries should continue being accountable to people from their own community

Do you provide adequate accountability to those in your country of service as well as to those who sent you there? I am accountable first to God, then my wife, and then my family. I am accountable to my home church, my supporters, the fellowship of ministers I belong to, my missions’ director, my local board of directors, my local organization, and the organizations that Globe Mission belongs to as the work we do affects them and the nation. The level of accountability I have varies dependent on the type of relationship I have with each entity. But we are not independent; we are interdependent, by choice.


Bear these 23 keys in mind when you are out in the mission field. They can make a difference to your success and the experience that you will receive.

Come back to me at ask@fieldpartner.org and let me know which you think really matters to you; or do you think I’ve missed anything? Let’s help each other succeed! There is plenty more material to help you on your way at www.fieldpartner.org


If you found this post helpful, do check out our Leadership In Mission online course.

P.S. You can download this article as an infographic. Check it out:

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PDF)

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PNG Image)

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Podcast: Cross Cultural Mission Experiences That We Can Learn From Abraham

Abraham, the father of our faith and of cross cultural mission!

Hi, this is Ross Paterson, I'd like to take a brief opportunity to share with you from a very important passage regarding cross cultural mission work. Many writers, many of those who share our heart for mission, turn to this passage. It's kind of the Old Testament equivalent of Acts 1:8. So, let me start with that passage.

God’s Word to Abraham in Genesis 12

Genesis 12."God had told Abraham, or Abram, 'Leave your own country behind you and your own people and go to the land I will guide you to. If you do, I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, and you will be a blessing to many others. I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you; and the entire world will be blessed because of you." Or in the more recent translation, "And all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

If you have heard this passage, you will know the reference here to what is called top line-bottom line, which I think is very relevant to our generation and to where we stand today. The top line, of course, "I will make you famous, I will make you become the father of a great nation, I will bless you, you will be a blessing to many others; I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you."

And that's the top line, it is the sense of God's hand upon us, God's blessing upon us, of God's goodness and favour upon us. But there's the bottom line, too. "And the entire world will be blessed because of you." In other words, with God's blessing comes a definition of the purpose of that blessing, and the definition of the purpose of that blessing is a very simple one; that others, indeed, in Abraham's case, the whole world. should be blessed because of you.

Equipping of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8

Now, just a minute or two ago, I made the observation that this is really the Old Testament equivalent of Acts 1:8, that you'll be familiar with. “You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”, that great promise of the empowering, of the equipping of the Holy Spirit. But that is the top line; the bottom line, of course in Acts 1:8, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, to the ends of the earth.” There is a very, very important balance there. Now, looking at this recently, four basic points struck me:

Firstly, there is a bottom line to this top line. There is a sense that God is calling Abraham, not just to be particularly blessed out of all the people upon the face of the earth. But also, at the same time that God is calling Abraham to take responsibility with that blessing, as one writer said,

"It is a timeless reminder of God's plan to bring man beyond judgment into His purpose. With the call of Abraham, that purpose began to unfold as God's programme for men's restoration; not just Abraham's, but for all men's restoration, and it became expressed through a very specific individual.”

God blesses us so that we can be a blessing unto others

And so, my first point is, and it's obvious from what I have been saying so far, that God's intention, when He bestows blessing upon us, is not just that we would be blessed, but that we would, in the equipment of that blessing, go out and become a blessing to others; specifically, in Acts 1:8 terms, that we would not stop until we are witnesses for Him to the ends of the earth, to the far corners of the earth. And every man, and woman, and child in our generation should have the opportunity to hear of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus.

Now, in a limited recording here, without going into that in too much detail, I believe that's a very, very, very crucial word for our generation. That we would come to the point of seeing that God has called us not just to go from conference, to meeting, to book, to this and the other, to be blessed. Legitimately, in my view, that is; but at the same time, it would be our heart's desire to use that blessing to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others. Then we wouldn't just seek more and more for ourselves - though I don't have a problem with that in one sense - but that the equipping should be for a very specific purpose, that men and women might hear of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God works through relationships

Secondly, very importantly, God's work flourishes in our lives through relationship. God told Abraham, verse 7, "God spoke to Abraham, then immediately after this, then the Lord appeared to Abraham and said: "I'm going to give this land to you and your descendants."

Very, very important also, that as one writer said, "These Abraham narratives begin to show what relationship with God can look like in the meanwhile, before the Lord Jesus, what for human beings in the fallen world, it can be to be God's friend. We see Abraham gradually beginning to understand who God is and what it means to trust Him.”

Knowing God And Being Hungry For God

Though when we receive the Lord Jesus we come into a personal knowledge of him, that's the fantastic truth of real Christianity, yet at the same time it is also true that God calls us to grow in that knowledge. There is, at the heart of Christianity, this divine dichotomy, if you like. We know Him, and yet we need to know Him more and more. We do know Him, and yet, we don't know Him enough.

One of the little tests that I personally would have as a focus, is the question “Am I Hungry”? Are you hungry to know more of God? I've been a Christian for over 50 years, I've been in full-time Christian service for over 40 years. It's 40 years since I went out as a missionary to Asia. But I have to say, I am hungry to know the Lord better. Praise the Lord, He speaks, He comes to us.

God speaking to Abraham in understanding and openness

Even in another passage, that actually I was reading in my quiet time this morning, in Genesis 18, just a few chapters later. It says, "The Lord appeared again to Abraham when he was living in the oak grove of Mamre." This is the way it happened. One hot summer afternoon, as he was sitting in the opening of his tent, he suddenly noticed three men coming towards him. He sprang up and ran to meet them, and welcomed them.

And it says later in the passage, verse 10, "Then the Lord said: 'Next year I will give you, and Sarah, your wife, a son.’" God has something important to say to Abraham, this is the occasion when Sarah laughs, and the Lord said: "Why did Sarah laugh?" And Sarah said: "I didn't laugh", then he said: "Yes, you did." I looked at the Scriptures this morning, where it said that it is not a fierce rebuke from the Lord, it's a simple: “let's walk in truth, but I also understand why you laugh, because at 90 years of age, you did not think you could have a child.” Very understanding, but very open and honest too.

And my point here is that God comes, the Lord comes to Abraham, the Lord visits Abraham in person. And as I just read, it says that as he was sitting under the tree, and they came towards him, I take it to be a pre-incarnation or a visit of Jesus plus two angels, Abraham leaps up and greets them. Now, I can talk as well as you like about Eastern hospitality and all this kind of thing, and that's true. But there is a parable there too. Am I keen to meet with the Lord? Morning by morning or whatever, do I do that, am I keen to meet with Him?

Being blessed is not the same as having experiences with God

You see, if I run these two points together, my first point and my second, could it be that many are getting blessed and having all kinds of experiences, but they are not, in that sense, meeting with the Lord? That is, they are not hearing what God is saying concerning His purpose, His destiny, His intention for their life. How many come into powerful experiences of the Holy Spirit, but are not listening to hear the Father say: "This is for the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and indeed, to the ends of the earth"?

Mission Work Requires Leaving Things Behind

Thirdly, and logically from here, in Genesis 12, it meant ‘going’. "Leave your country behind you and your own people." As another translation says, for Genesis 12:1, "Go out from your land and from your kindred and from your father's house to the land I will show you." There was no fluffing around in this. Almost every translation, New King James, Revised King James is clear on this point, "Go out of your country and from your kindred and from your father's house into a land that I will show you." At the heart of real spirituality, at the heart of real Christianity, is the ‘going’.

And I wonder again, whether many do not go because we are afraid to leave the comfort of our Father's house, if you'd like. One writer said, "They knew very well," this is Abraham, and those with him, "That responding to God's call meant that they would never see their country or their family again."

This was not Boeing 747. This was not a 2-week mission trip. If they went, they might never - and I do not think they did - ever see that land again. They knew very well that responding to God's call meant that they would never see their country or their family again. They responded anyway, even though they realized that the only point of stability in the new land would be their relationship with the Lord, the Lord that they were just beginning to know.

Would that be enough? That is a powerful point, is it not? Is it a fact that so few are really willing to go on mission, because whatever we say, and do, and read, and attend, and whatever; the reality is that the only point of stability in the new land would be their relationship with God, with the God that they were just beginning to know?

Why we run a cross cultural mission school

That is one of the reasons why we run a school of cross cultural mission. Actually, we run one both inside China, for those wanting to serve the Lord in China, and we run another one in Asia for Chinese-speaking people wanting to go into China to serve. Yes, we want to teach cross-cultural stuff, and history of missions. But more than that, we actually want to find out how well do people know the Lord.

Things to consider in cross cultural missions

And I would encourage you to consider these things. To consider maybe if you have been on a mission trip with us or with others, to consider the school of missions. Because it would be my sense that many actually can conceal our lack of knowledge of the Lord, our lack of that real dependence as the only point of stability our lives while in ordinary church life. That is not a criticism of church, it is just that we are in our own culture. There is something about being thrust into a new culture that is testing.

So, there is my challenge. Why not find out how well you know the Lord and take the opportunity to know the Lord better by venturing out? When I went to Soviet Russia, in about 1963, smuggling Bibles and Billy Graham books into communist Russia, at a very powerful point in their history, you quickly found out how well you knew the Lord, and you quickly grew in the amazing truth that He is with us.

God uses ordinary people - even if they mess up!

The fourth thing, and very important. God comes to Abraham, and He says, "Leave your country, I'm going to make you a great nation, I'm going to bless you, etc. etc." Yet the incredible reality is that Abraham is an ordinary guy.

Abraham’s mistake

The second half of Genesis 12, it says: "There was a terrible famine in the land, so Abraham went on to Egypt to live. As he was approaching the borders of Egypt, he asked Sarai - later Sarah, his wife - to tell everyone that she was his sister. 'You're very beautiful', he told her, 'And when the Egyptians see that, they will say 'This is his wife, let's kill him, and then we can have her.' If you say you're my sister, then the Egyptians will treat me well, because of you and spare my life.'"

What a coward! I mean, I hope we would not actually do that, if we are married. But here is this man of power for the hour, this man of destiny to the nations. The first thing he does after hearing God is lies his head off and acts like a coward. And you probably know what happened. The Lord sent a terrible plague against the Pharaoh’s house, so Pharaoh drove Abram out. He said: "What is this you've done to me? Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? Why were you willing to let me marry her, saying she was your sister? Here, take her, and be gone!" And the Pharaoh sent him out of the country under armed escort, Abraham and his wife, and all his possessions.

What a hugely embarrassing thing. I mean, here is Abraham getting dismissed from the country because he is a liar and a cheat. And one writer said: "They went to Egypt to find food, and also found trouble. Maybe God's knowledge that trouble really was to follow him, caused Him to ensure their return under armed guard and shame to the land of His promised Presence. It is encouraging to realize that unwise decisions do not automatically mean the end of a previously accepted calling."

God uses ordinary people

Ordinary people. It is so fantastic that! Let me read those sentences again. "It is encouraging to realize that unwise decisions do not automatically mean the end of a previously accepted calling." We make mistakes, we do stupid things, we sin, but God can restore and bring us again into His purposes, even under an armed Egyptian guard dismissing us from the country. Be encouraged, God uses ordinary people, fallible people. Peter - what more examples do we need? - and be encouraged also.

If at some point you have blown it, there is a way back through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Go back into God's calling on your life. I say that strongly. Return to God's calling on your life, because actually, that's where He destined you to be. And that's the only place of real prosperity and blessing for you.


Bless you then, I am just sharing with you a few thoughts from Genesis 12. There is a bottom line to it. There is a top line of blessing, there is a bottom line of God's heart for the nations. Get involved in that on a mission trip, praying, supporting those who go, or going on the school of missions or something long-term. May God help you, and bless you, and keep you. And like Abraham, keep us all, one way or the other, in His purposes.

“Lord, we commit ourselves to You. Have Your way in our lives, we pray. In Jesus' Name, amen.”

Thank you for reading and listening to Cross Cultural Mission Tips From Abraham's Experiences. 

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