Ministry in this area of the world is like ministry in any other part of the world, only more so.
What I mean is that we and our partners here face the same cross-cultural challenges we would face in, say, Honduras, the Philippines, Germany or even India. Things like a different language, culture, lifestyle, education and social environment. It’s just that in this part of the world, those things are magnified by a uniquely pervasive involvement with a singular religion. Every facet of life is colored by this religion. Which means that figuring out a way to effectively communicate our message in this environment presents an unusually difficult challenge.
Our partners working here know from years of experience how difficult it is. But they and their families have still devoted their lives to doing it. They ‘re willing to deal with people one at a time, deliberately and faithfully building the kind of relationships that eventually start to add up to a significant movement. It’s slow going. But we’re starting to see the first fruits of that labor.
It’s a privilege for us to come alongside of them. It’s so exciting to be a part of this unique mix of ministers on the field, our home office and committed groups like ours in Lexington—all on the cutting edge of ministry in this, the most hard-to-reach area of the world.
Tonight at dinner Pam had carefully gotten instructions from our friend Karla on what to order at a local restaurant. So our group struck out on our own, walking a few blocks through the city to the place. Pam did a great job on talking and gesturing to the waiter about where to seat us. She didn’t even need to look at a menu. Instead, she spoke the native language slowly and clearly, telling the bemused guy what we wanted. I say “bemused” because I’m sure he’d never heard his language spoken with an upstate accent.
After the waiter left I turned to Pam and admiringly said, “When you talk like that it makes me hot.” Pam gave me that look all husbands have seen. Jake, though, almost fell out of his chair laughing. I told him he couldn’t repeat what I said (then or later) when we got back home but since I know he won’t pay any attention to me, I thought a pre-emptive strike was in order.
That’s all for tonight. Heading to bed early since I’m still dealing with jet lag. The four-hour meeting today just about killed me.