Cross-Cultural Missions is Not About Travel

By Anna D

Cross-cultural missions is not about travel.

In Beauty and the Beast, Belle dreams of another life, runs up a hill, flings open her arms and sings, “I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell!” Even as an adult, this scene takes my breath away. I have the J .R. R. Tolkien quote, “Not all who wander are lost,” plastered on one wall and a map with all the places I’ve visited hanging on another.

I admit it. I suffer from chronic wanderlust. However, currently the Lord has called me to the busy yet mostly routine life of a PhD student. When my longings to travel surface, I sometimes face the temptation to view cross-cultural missions as the answer. But cross-cultural missions is not the cure for wanderlust.

Don’t get me wrong. Wanderlust is not inherently bad. I believe that God gives many of us a desire to travel and a passion for other cultures and experiences as part of our callings to mission.  But when considering an cross-cultural missions experience, whether long-term or short-term, we cannot choose to go simply because we are scratching an itch.

“We must go on God’s mission as committed servants compelled by love for God and love for the nations.”

We must go on God’s mission as committed servants compelled by love for God and love for the nations. If wanderlust is our only impetus for missions, we run the risk of throwing in the towel before the job is done. But how do we know if we are treating missions as the cure to wanderlust?

Here are three questions to consider with cross-cultural missions.

How do we respond to the unfavorable or the mundane?

With wanderlust, we are always chasing the next mountaintop experience. We find joy in the newness of the next journey. Although we may revel in the moment while it’s happening, the shine wears off quickly, and we soon start planning our next adventure. Many times, wanderlust is the siren calling us to the new and the exotic, the exciting and the beautiful.

Cross-cultural missions isn’t always breathtakingly beautiful environments or adrenaline-filled adventures. The Lord often leads us to the poverty stricken, smog-filled, and overlooked places that wanderlust would never take us. Instead of buying into the illusion of comfort, we look boldly into the dirty, ugly, sinful parts of our world and take Christ’s message there.

Cross-cultural missions also demands faithfulness in the mundane. While we may move to a new culture and see exotic places, God’s mission asks us to stay when we itch to leave. God calls us to be faithful as we figure out public transportation, the banking system, social cues, how to interact with our neighbors, and how to respond to conflict.

God sometimes puts us in the middle of incredible adventures that clearly illustrate that he is at work. Other times, he asks us to be faithful as we figure out the trash system in our new context. He asks us to persevere, even when we aren’t seeing the results of our labor. God’s mission requires dedication in life’s normal routines.

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Source: Church Leaders