Cross-Cultural Confusion or Calm?

By Rachel Greco

Someone beats a beggar violently in the street. Kids scrounge around trash heaps for food or treasure to sell. Everywhere blink eyes full of despair. What do you do in such tragic, difficult situations? How can you help? Should you help? The 25 participants in the most recent Intercultural Communications Course (ICC) at JAARS explored these and other challenging worldview questions. Most of these students will serve God in a country other than their own. They learned how to integrate into another culture, build relationships overseas, and answer these difficult questions.

Jordan’s table group during ICC

Even more important than these provocative topics, these mission workers absorbed information about the spiritual vitality needed to serve with hardiness and longevity. “We learned how to build our spiritual lives overseas where missionaries spend long periods of time without hearing God’s Word preached in their own language,” Jordan Keyton, who now serves as an Electrician/Power Systems Engineer at JAARS, shared.  

Worshiping at an Arabic church

Each Sunday of the four-week course, the participants attended a church of an ethnicity and language other than their own to experience worshipping in a foreign language. Jordan attended an Arabic-speaking church. “They were so kind and caring,” he relates about the church members. “They taught me how to pray passionately to the Lord. I learned how they worship and every time I left, I felt that these brothers and sisters in Christ truly love the Lord, even though I never understood a word of the songs and sermons.”

To focus on spiritual vitality, participants spent time with the Lord and his Word. They studied Ephesians extensively, along with topical studies such as identity in Christ, suffering, and spiritual warfare. During one key event, the spiritual retreat, participants set aside three hours or more of uninterrupted time to study God’s Word, worship him, and listen to him. About this special time, one participant said, “I found some real rich focus on who God is through the Psalms, and [my wife] basked in the love of God found in 1 John.”

This man and his wife attended a Haitian (Creole) church for their language-immersion experience. Everybody in the church is from Haiti, and the primary language spoken is Haitian Creole, along with a little French and English. The couple experienced many hours of Creole each Sunday as they listened and tried to understand the Sunday school lesson and worship service. “We were privileged to build relationships with many church members before church and after the service.”

In the future, when these ICC participants encounter people who are hurting, broken, and lost, they can respond in culturally appropriate ways with the love of Christ.

Join us in praying for the incoming 35 participants and 20 children who will attend the next ICC course July 10—August 9. Pray that the adults and kids will eagerly open their hearts to all the Lord has for them from his Word, increase their understanding of world view and cultural factors at their future assignments, and practice the skills necessary for them to thrive on multi-cultural teams, whether overseas or in the U.S.