Wanted: FAST & FURIOUS missionaries
If you reckon you got what it takes to drive a ten second car, then apply right here. Whoever said that being a missionary had to be dull! And if you don’t fancy the idea of being some strange dude’s dinner, but wouldn’t mind kicking it over after smashing into a brick wall at breakneck speeds, then the mission-field of street racing might just be for you. There is one catch though; You gotta love Jesus.
When I was younger there was this Rolux Magnum advert on TV promoting the latest lawn mower, where two bands of people were mowing through the tall grasses of Africa when they stumble across each other. The one comments to the other “Dr Livingstone I presume!” And that has always stuck with me as the classic example of a missionary; some white guy sweating it out in some foreign country. And he wasn’t even one of them that got eaten. But that’s the image that I had.
But I just recently learnt that that is a COMPLETELY incorrect perception of what it is to be a missionary. You see, a missionary is defined as someone who crosses either geography or culture (1). Crossing the geographical boundary, is the traditional understanding of a missionary. In reality, most times when you cross a geographic boundary, you inevitably crosses a cultural boundary too. However, in a multiple ethnic society such as South Africa, it’s very easy to be crossing different cultures without crossing geographies.
But ethnicity on its own does not determine culture. Culture is defined as “… a people’s way of life, their design for living, their way of coping with their biological, physical and social environment” (2). Therefore, within any given ethnic group, there may be varying ways of living and or coping. If this then is culture, anytime you are crossing a way of life that is not the same as yours, means you are being cross-cultural.
And this is where the whole ten second car, fast and furious missionary thing comes in. For that matter, this is where any type of cross-cultural missionary scenario comes in. Too many times we have been stereotyped with culture being equal to people of the same color or ethnicity as us. But nowhere in any of the above definitions of culture, did ethnicity come in. In fact, there are cultures within cultures, or what is commonly termed as sub-cultures.
Different people and groups of people have differing ways of coping with their personal and or immediate surroundings. Therefore when you encounter people who are different than you, you have an opportunity to be cross-cultural. And the moment you start interacting with them at a religious level, guess what? You’re a missionary.
Quite a mind shift isn’t it? To think that you could actually be a missionary without even having to leave your country, your city, or even your neighbourhood. All it takes is for the people to be different than you! So go out, meet some new people, disciple them, and be proud to call yourself a missionary.
my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say
(1). Bryant, David 2009. Beyond Loving the World in Ralph, D & Hawthorne, Steven C (eds). Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader – 4th Edition. Pasadena: William Carey Library. Page 719.
(2). Kraft, Charles H 2009. Culture, Worldview and Contextualization in Ralph, D & Hawthorne, Steven C (eds). Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader – 4th Edition. Pasadena: William Carey Library. Page 401.