I’m curious to get the opinion of other missionaries in foreign countries. Or really anyone, but I think that certain group of people will understand a little better this whole thought process.
As we all know, moving to a different country and settling into a new lifestyle brings BIG changes. You’re adapting to a different culture, learning a new language, and meeting tons of people with their own attitudes and ideas.
The biggest change is learning how some things that work in the US (or wherever you’re from), things you’ve used your entire life…they may not be what’s best for the new culture you’re living in!
This is a very important lesson to learn, and crucial if you’re earnestly seeking to integrate yourself into your new environment.
When it comes to ministry, I really believe in partnering with local churches and missions – learning from them and using their influence in the area to introduce yourself into the community. I just think it’s so essential to glean wisdom from local pastors, leaders, and church members about how this particular culture views Christianity, missionaries, worship, evangelism….and where they stand as far as rules and boundaries.
Now, hang on with me as I go on a little tangent:
I am 100% on board and completely agree with the opinion that, once we make the decision to use our lives to glorify God, we give up certain aspects of our personal pleasure. Life isn’t about ME ME ME anymore. God wants joy to fill my soul and for me to take pleasure in the world He’s created for me, but He is also sure of the fact that He is the provider of that joy. I can pour out all day long, give everything I have, choose compassion over being right…I can do all these things through Christ who strengthens me. He is the secret to being content. There is a lot of selfishness that needs to be sacrificed if I want to experience true joy. I need to give up temporary happiness to settle into the contentedness of true joy that is found in God alone.
That all being said, there are certain things that bring me happiness that I don’t personally feel are wrong. For example, after moving to Central America, I found out that I LOVE, but I mean absolutely LOVE Latin dancing. It’s a great challenge, good exercise, and it’s SO. MUCH. FUN. Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Cumbia, Lambada…I want to learn it all!
However, in the majority of churches and Christian communities here, dancing (unless it’s Praise/Worship dance) is a sin.
Katlyn and I have made a lot of compromises here in Porvenir in regards to our personal lives. Since we are starting a brand new Christian ministry, we want to make sure we get off on the right foot in this town. We want respect and credibility, and that comes with the people here seeing with their own eyes that we are being good examples and being who we say we are.
We know that when we chose this direction for our lives, that meant giving up a lot of our right to doing what we want, when we want, how we want.
In this particular culture, it means no drinking, no dancing, no secular music, and paying close attention to the way we dress, among a few other things.
Our image is one of the biggest tools we have to incite partnership, help, and support for our ministry.
I’m not going to lie, it is HARD sometimes, and we are by no means perfect. There are things we are used to being acceptable in the States that just are not and have never been here in Honduras.
However, the RULES and REGULATIONS in the churches here are sometimes waaayyy out there. Not to mention that, basically, if you commit any of these “sins”, you’re not actually a Christian, and many times you’re shunned in your church. Guidelines that the Lord put in place to help us experience the goodness of a pure and holy life have turned into heavy, heavy chains that weigh many people down. These chains scare off a good amount of people who really need a Savior that they can trust implicitly and who will love them unconditionally. They make good people feel like failures, and turn kind people into judgmental pharisees with hearts of stone.
This is a whole other issue that desperately needs prayer and change, but that’s another topic for another day.
What I am trying to get at is that there are positives and negatives to every church and every culture’s individual views on Christianity. So where do we as missionaries in a different culture draw the line between:
- respecting and learning from this new culture’s Christian community while also maintaining a good image so that we have credibility in our ministry.
- speaking our minds about our personal beliefs, trying to fight against the chains of legalism.
Compassionately sharing our hearts and what the Lord has taught us about His grace and mercy.
Doing things that may be against the “rules” but is something you don’t feel personally convicted by and isn’t a sin in the Bible, to try and promote freedom in the Lord.
Will it make a difference even if you have all the right scriptures and proof to prove your point?
Is it worth it to shut up about your personal beliefs if it means the churches respecting you more?
When is it wise to pick and choose battles?
I know there is a happy medium out there.
Like I said, Katlyn and I have been trying to be really cautious in our actions and words, and have chosen to give some things up in order to stop gossip and be respected.
Sometimes it drives me crazy when I want to explain stuff like….how music for me is a spiritual thing, whether it’s blatantly talking about the Lord or not.
I hope I’m somewhat clearly getting across this conflict I’ve been feeling in my heart lately.
I truly am content here, I love this life, but every big change takes getting used to, it doesn’t happen overnight, and I don’t think I will understand everything even after years of living here.
I’m just praying for wisdom for each day that comes.
What can I do in each moment so that my life is a good example of a great God?
I think there is only so much that one person can do about their image until they need to step back and say, “Okay God, you take it from here.”
Or maybe our hands should’ve been open the whole time.
All I know is that God has been preparing my heart for this my entire life, and He’s been preparing the hearts of the people we’ll come into contact with this ministry for their entire lives. He’s planned this all from the beginning of time, and He’ll see it all through to completion.
I can have complete and total faith that it’s in His hands, and He’ll guide every step as we go.
Please be praying for us that we’ll have open eyes and ears to the wisdom He wants to give us in all the decisions we make in our personal lives and in the creation of Finding Hope.
So, prayer would be lovely, but like I said, I would really love to hear y’all’s opinions on all of this! Sorry as always for my ramble-y thoughts and the jumbled way it all comes out.
Got any verses that talk about any of this? Anything the Lord’s putting on your heart to share?
Please comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for taking the time to read and spend a few minutes in the mind of an over-thinking, recovering people-pleaser who is Haille Krieg.
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