[Interview] A Seasoned Missionary Shares Key Points of Cross-Cultural Missions for Chinese Churches

(photo: pixabay.com)
By Ruth WangSeptember 15th, 2016

A seasoned missionary with many years of experience in Asia is recently invited to share with CCD his insights on the cross-cultural missions. He used to live in China for many years, thus very familiar with Chinese language and culture. Currently, he's involved in cross-cultural missions with many exposure to work with Chinese missionaries. According to his belief, China, just as Canaan's wedding banquet in the NT Book of John, will spread its fragrance by becoming a prominent missional country and making greater contribution in the world mission in the future.

However, there are inevitable challenges lying ahead this vision. Below are several insights brought up by the missionary:

1.Missionaries: you need to set yourself apart from your own culture and adapt to local culture.

Viewing from Hudson Taylor's experience of wearing Chinese costumes and learning Chinese languages during his mission in China, a missionary should not be overly self-absorbed in one's own culture but try to adapt to the local culture as much as possible.

I once posed a question to a missionary, "Why missionaries at Hudson Taylor's age could speak such fluent Mandarin while we found it so challenging to learn the native language?" He replied with me an one-word answer, "WeChat." Though we missionaries stay in the mission field, we still tend to rely too much on WeChat communication with other Chinese. We should completely step out of our comfort zone by fully engaging ourselves with the locals and their languages.

Many of us, including myself, are obsessed with local food. Of course, we can invite our foreigner friends over for Chinese food during festive seasons. However, we should try to put aside our cultural tendency by trying out local food on normal days.

We should not let our national or cultural pride take over our missional goal. Paul says that ," I have made myself a servant to all." If we physically stay overseas but act like a Chinese, there will be little impact on our work.

When we train young missionaries, we would require them to sit for local service at least once a month. We hope to train their perseverance in a completely foreign environment where they could not understand the local language..

2. Chinese churches should actively take over the missional role and develop its own paths on cross-cultural mission

Chinese churches should actively tap from other countries' experience to maximize its potential in becoming the next missional nation. Surely, we should never copy and paste the entire mission models from South Korea and America without any adaptation to the context of China. Rather, we should learn from their principles to develop our own mission models.

While the world is pouring out abundant resources and expertise to Chinese churches in building up its missional front, Chinese churches themselves still need to actively resolve many problems within themselves and raising up missionaries within the countries to venture onto the mission field.

 In South Korea, pastors are required to have a few years of overseas mission before being officially ordained the pastoral role. I find this tradition to be extremely sound. Without any overseas mission experience, you would never imagine the missional needs outside the nation. Thus, many pastors in China show reluctance in sending out missionaries as they are absorbed by the fields within China. Indeed, going out onto the overseas mission field enables one to open up his mind to the missional needs outside the country.

Moreover, China has not been able to send out truly capable or well-trained missionaries in recent years. Who sent out Paul and Barnabas? It is the Holy Spirit, not the church in Antioch. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit touches their hearts when several prophets and teachers gathered from different regions were fasting and praying in Antioch. They were probably missionaries sent from different churches at that time. Upon the touch of the Holy Spirit, their hearts were prompted by God. As such, the open-mindedness among leaders is definitely a crucial factor.

3. We should start to train potential missionaries among children since Sunday School 

A missionary once shared his struggle, "Why so many people still have departed away from mission after attending so many trainings conducted by us?"

I think the seed of mission has never been truly planted in their hearts. I know many college graduates in China going for mission for only 1-2 years and after which, coming back to the secular world. Why is it so? Many of them have gone for mission for a spur of new experience.

I keep on asking myself "Why so many have gone for mission training but so few have actually gone for mission?" My answer was found in a South Korean missionary's sharing, " Do you know that I've met missionaries as early as I was in Sunday school? The heart for mission was set when I was younger than 10 years old. As such, the path of mission becomes so natural to me when I turn 20. Actually, 70% of missionaries in South Korea and many in the U.S. also had the same exposure when they are in Sunday schools. "

Without an early exposure of mission at young ages, many young adults tend to be easily tied down by worldly expectation of committing to marriage, buying cars and houses etc. The path of doing mission may seem deviating too far off from their existing planning.

Many parents tend to think that mission is too big a concept for their children to grasp. As such, very few churches invite missionaries to share their experience with children in Sunday school.  Hence, Chinese churches should start to raise up its mission teams among the young as early as possible.

 A small mustard seed can be grown into something big.

4. We should share more testimonies of missionaries to project role models for our generation

The power of role model is prominent in life of Paul as he follows Barnabas to do mission initially. When people encounter missionaries' stories, they would be inspired to do otherwise for God's glory.

I believe William Carey, who inspires many to go for mission, is an exceptional role model in pioneering mission. Adoniram Judson is one of the followers who are touched by Carey's heart for mission and thus, decides to venture out to India and Myanmar to spread the

As the role of the missionary-sending hub was being passed on to China, I believe that the impact of China's mission would be even stronger than ever before. Hence, I behold tremendous hope in China's cross-cultural mission in the future.

I believe that China will raise up the next Judson in the next 20-30 years.

Check the video below, China's Mission

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