"Cross-cultural ministry is not an invention of modem missionary movements. It is how God often works and uses His people."
God uses people cross-culturally
One of the great truths that shapes our lives as Christians is that God uses people cross culturally. Our God is a missionary God who continues to spread God's blessings of salvation across barriers and borders of culture and tradition.
The December Newsletter of International Neighbors, a ministry of Seattle Presbytery, walks through this great truth with eloquence in an article by Jonathan Kobayashi, and I gladly share it with you. Kobayashi is associate pastor of Seattle's Japanese Presbyterian Church and member of International Neighbors' board of directors.
God uses people cross-culturally. Of course, you know this. You [supporters of International Neighbors] are reading this newsletter because you love and enjoy international students. You want to share the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ. You have decided to allow God to use you to make an eternal difference. You understand that people you are ministering to today have the potential and capacity to touch the lives of many in their communities and to influence their society for good tomorrow.
A Presbyterian pastor, Rev. George Hanabusa of Japanese Church of Christ in Salt Lake City, UT, points out that Moses and Paul, two of the greatest figures in the Bible, were both cross-cultural ministers.
Moses was raised as an Egyptian in the main culture and customs of Egypt. Later he spent 40 years in exile in the foreign land of Midian. Only then God called him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Yes, Moses was a Jew ethnically, but practically he had to minister to his own people cross-culturally.
Paul grew up in the Jewish traditions and culture even though he was a Roman citizen. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. Within the Hellenistic culture, Paul was a devout Jew both religiously and culturally, probably speaking Hebrew as his first language. Then God called him to be an apostle to the Gentiles.
Thus, cross-cultural ministry is not an invention of modem missionary movements. It is how God often works and uses His people. It is as old as Exodus and Acts. It is integral to God's plan as Scripture shows it in the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt and the spread of the Gospel in the first-century Roman Empire. It is not optional for the church but is inseparable with its redemptive purpose. The church always has a cross-cultural component to its ministry, for we are called to make disciples of all nations. In Acts 1.8, Jesus makes it clear that we are His witnesses both in our own culture (Jerusalem and in all Judea) and in the cultures of others (Samaria, and to the end of the earth).
The frontier mission task of the church - reaching out cross-culturally to those cultures and peoples for whom the gospel is new - is a vital aspect of the "inseparable" and "integral" plan of God's redemptive purpose.
In this new year 2004, may your church and mine make a greater commitment to love the world as God does: Cross-culturally.
-- Dave Hackett