Interested in Bible Translation? You’ll Need This

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Bible translation

In his hut in Kenya, a Christian man translates the Swahili Bible into his native Samburu language. Photo courtesy imb.org.

Visiting Ethnos360.org, you’d find their mission: A thriving church for every people. 

And you’d find a pressing question: More than 6,000 of the world’s people groups are still unreached. Are we okay with that? What if we partnered together? read more

Rewrapping Christmas Overseas, Part I

Reading Time: 4 minutes

ChristmasYour first year overseas has a way of rearranging your life, your brain, your family, your body. So it makes sense your holidays would follow.

You may be wondering what Christmas looks like away from the lines to meet Santa, the obnoxious Black Friday ads–but also far from the welcoming hugs from mom, the family clustered around the tree or piano belting out carols.

My experience? Like most of overseas life, there were notable griefs and clarifying, memorable triumphs. Here, thoughts from my first Christmas overseas in Africa (edited from the original post on MomLifeToday.com). read more

How My Career in Healthcare Took Its Show on the Road–Overseas

Reading Time: 4 minutes

career veterinary fieldworker

In Go. Serve. Love’s passion to help you navigate a path overseas, we believe marketplace missions has 4.13 billion beautiful reasons for you to consider doing your career (yes, that one) overseas. So we’re psyched to welcome Sarah Galloway, nurse practitioner, wife, and mom, who’s recently moved her job overseas with the help of Scatter Global.

catter helps you find a job and live on mission where Jesus is not known. (See? Isn’t that cool?)  read more

“Trust and Obey, Mommy”: Gala’s Story

Reading Time: 4 minutes

trust and obey

Our family had been in Ethiopia for about two weeks one February when we decided to visit the village where we’d soon be living.

My husband John is a water engineer. Our task was to put in a water system for the Tokay area and surrounding villages. We had just begun language school in Addis, so our skills were limited–but we were excited to see the village where we’d live for the next three years, about four hours west. read more

Excellence in Missions: 7 Standards [INFOGRAPHIC]

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’re all about bringing you tools you can use to truly go there, serve Him, and love them well. So we’ve partnered with Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission to bring you today’s (totally printable) infographic: 7 Standards of Excellence in Missions.

Then why do standards like these matter?

You might feel frustrated, too, by patronizing “help” that actually hurts. Or by work that makes us feel better but makes them worse. Or by global work that continues cycles of poverty. Maybe you’re angered by missions trips cannibalizing local employment, or blind to cultural norms so people are turned off to the Gospel. read more

My Big Dream (that Starts Small)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

big dream

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Rebecca Hopkins’ blog, Borneo Wife, when she and her husband served in Indonesia. She now blogs from her new American home at rebeccahopkins.org .

A window in my kitchen faces our backyard. Much of my days are spent cooking and watching, washing dishes and listening, making granola and checking. The kids are often dangling or running or whooping outside, playing on our mini-playground with the zipline. read more

When My Child’s Fluency = My Success

Reading Time: 4 minutes

fluency

One benefit of my kids growing up overseas is their rich experience of another culture.  My kids absorb elements of the adopted country in an organic way.  They often see the world with a different perspective from someone–even an adult–who hasn’t left their home country.

I love that my kids have adopted certain aspects from Egypt: They have favorite Egyptian foods. They wash their hands after eating, and believe tissues are reasonable as napkins at the table. My kids know how to say “thank you” to mean “no” if they don’t want something being offered.  I love that three of my kids write and speak some Arabic and understand even more.

But wait, you might say, why just “some Arabic?”  Haven’t your kids been growing up in Egypt?

Shouldn’t they be picking up the language smoothly and effortlessly like the sponges that children are?

Yes, they are sponges when they are immersed in the language or culture full-time.

FLUENCY: The Picture vs. The Reality

The reality for us? We speak mostly English at home.  We attend an English-speaking church.  They attend an English-speaking international school.

When my children were younger they attended a preschool where they were the only non-Egyptians.  We also attended a Sunday school program at a large Arabic church.  We all learned church songs in Arabic and followed the Bible story.

During that season, the kids enjoyed the interactions and even saw friends from soccer-training at church.  Through these interactions, they developed a foundation for Arabic and Egyptian culture.

But just as kids learn quickly, with skills only occasionally used, they also tend to forget quickly.

Now at my kids’ school, they take Arabic class four days per week.  They are reading and writing Arabic.  They are speaking and understanding more all the time.

And they are not at a place of fluency.  Neither am I.

Not Good Enough?

While I would like for my kids to be confident about communicating with locals, our experience so far has not provided for them to regularly be immersed in the language to the point of fluency.

And in that, sometimes I hear the message that maybe I’m not doing a good enough job at this cross-cultural thing.  

In fact, a friend was criticized by a new member of her team who arrived in the country one day…and criticized her the next day. He couldn’t believe her child hadn’t attained fluency.

Reader, let’s not judge our fellow workers.

Let’s offer grace and seek to understand the situation of those on the field before we share criticism or offer instruction.

My Kids = My Success?

We need to remember to see our children as people, not as a marker of how successful we are cross-culturally.

Maybe your situation does not require your children to learn another language. But it’s possible you had expectations (or others had expectations of you) that your children would be immersed in the culture, surrounded by local children, loving their third-culture-kid identity.

Maybe, due to their school options or where you live or what your family needs to do in order to be healthy, those relationships and that cultural identification hasn’t completely happened for your children.

Some children will love learning the language and love speaking with locals.  Some will not.

They may dive head-first into the culture and enjoy making that part of their identity.  They might not.

When it comes to our children, it’s important to give them the tools to thrive, the encouragement to keep trying, and the flexibility and grace to find their place. 

FLUENCY: CHOOSING TO STRETCH THEM

Since I recognize that interactions with the language and locals will not just “magically” happen for my kids, I make certain choices when possible.

When given the opportunity to play tennis with an American coach or an Egyptian coach, I’ll choose the Egyptian Arabic-speaking coach for my kids.  If possible, I will find Arabic tutoring for my kids during summer break so they continue to develop their language skills.

What choices do you have available to get your kids into the local culture and language?  Can they

  • take group lessons–art, swimming, karate, science–with local kids they don’t meet at school?
  • attend a family retreat or camp?
  • participate in a church class for their age group?
  • play with a local adult who speaks the local language and teaches local songs?

This might require extra work from you, parents.  This might require a bit of pushing to get your kids on board.

I don’t think we should push our kids toward fluency beyond what they can reasonably handle. But I do think we make efforts to let our kids experience their host country in a non-touristy, daily-life kind of way.

Why Our Kids’ Adaptation Matters–Beyond Our Egos

The more natural and enjoyable experiences our children have with their host country, the more opportunity for them to identify with parts of the culture.

This creates ownership of the culture that helps to make them an ambassador for the local people of your host culture–becoming a voice about what is good and valuable about a foreign culture, strange and unknown, to their passport culture.

Your kids learn in a more natural way how to relate to different people. Maybe they’ll be able to move through different cultures and become like them in order to save some.

The bottom line: We give our children the opportunity and encouragement (and sometimes a little push) to be involved in the culture and language, learning more about their host country. 

And we don’t use our children’s language or cultural fluency as the marker for our own success.  That’s a part of their story. Not our merit badge.

Sarah serves in Egypt with her husband and four children. You can catch her blog here.

 

Like this post? You might like

Arriving Well Overseas: Tips for a Great Start

Reading Time: 5 minutes

arriving well overseas

In our efforts at Go. Serve. Love to help you in arriving well overseas, we’re posting from one of our partners, the all-new Mission App–which allows you to search and apply to 30 agencies with one app, and one application. 

Check out their thoughts below on how set yourself up for a smashing start overseas.

Is this home now?

Your footprints in the cement of your new host country haven’t even had a chance to dry and the question pops into your mind, “How do I do this well?”  

Everything is so new, so unfamiliar, and so important.

Take a deep breath. God has brought you here and will walk with you. Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind.

In arriving well overseas, Relationships are key.

So keep your relationship with the Lord fluid & fresh and He will make your path clear.  As you feast on His presence, His life will overflow from you while you dive into your new life and community.

Being genuinely interested, asking tons of questions, and sharing time and simple resources with your neighbors will go a long way in building trust and friendships.

Grab more ideas here to build community overseas.

Communicate with family and supporters from your home country as needed. but don’t spend all your time on the phone/computer.

Arriving well overseas means making yourself available so your neighbors and community know you are there to serve and are interested in their lives.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. keep the big picture in mind.

You cannot possibly totally adapt in a few days or even weeks or months.

Most often it takes years to really understand and learn another culture–to come alongside and live in someone else’s shoes (or bare feet). But you’ll learn new things every day.

Keep your heart, spirit, and mind open to see the similarities and differences around you, recognizing positives and using strengths and weaknesses to encourage yourself and those around you.

Do the practical things to dive in with and understand your neighbors and surroundings.

Learn their heart language and about their culture, both formally and informally. (See Why to Learn Their Heart-Language, Even if They Speak Yours.)

We’re all different in our ways of navigating newness. So there’s no right or wrong way to approach this. But the important thing is to be available, showing interest and care. 

Classroom learning is great and helpful, though likely the best times will be over a cup of tea, or a shared meal, the local market shopping experience or as you walk through your neighborhood or village.

Remember your kids are experiencing a big learning curve as well. 

Take time to talk about your kids’ concerns, what excites them, what makes them nervous. (It’s important your kids are arriving well overseas, too.)

Encourage them to talk about what’s important to them. Gently share Scriptures that will help them recognize God’s sovereign power, keeping each of you in His loving care (see verse list below).

Share your own experiences and feelings about inadequacy and fears as well.  Make a list of strengths and weaknesses and pray through them for each other.

Soak in the truth of God’s Word.

Read and write down or memorize the Scriptures that speak to your own situation as God leads you.

ARRIVING WELL OVERSEAS: A FEW verses TO GET YOU STARTED

  • Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  • Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I AM God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

  • Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You!”

  • Psalm 73:23Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”

  • Psalm 91 —The entire Psalm. A favorite is “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

  • Matthew 28: 19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  • Romans 8:26-27 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God!”

  • Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Reach out to someone local, or to a family, to show you the ropes.

Ask them basic questions like:

  1. Where should I do my shopping (if there are choices?!!)– or the proper way to cook/prepare a local food item.

  2. What do you believe about life after death?

  3. How do you dispose of garbage/waste?

  4. What traditions do you have as a family?

  5. Tell me about your family history.

  6. How do you connect or hang out with others in the community?

  7. Where to you go for medical assistance?

  8. How do I locate school supplies or toys for children?

  9. Where do I find garden tools?

  10. Are there things I should avoid or be sure to do when I am out and about in the community?

Often it is the others we serve with that may be the most challenging.

Even though we have the same goals and purpose, we can have very different ways in mind to achieve them and/or our lifestyles and backgrounds prove to be very different.

The Evil One would like nothing better than to get us distracted by our differences and ‘majoring on the minors’ – we must resist this trap of our number-one opposition.  Remember, we are in a spiritual battle and the evil one will use all manner of evil against us – but we are overcomers through the Lord Jesus Christ!

Grab 10 Ways to Make Sure Conflict Pulls You off the Field.

cultivate and enjoy community even if you tend to be a loner or simply fearful of doing things wrong.

We are not meant to be alone (see 1 Corinthians 12:23). To be Christ-like in a broken world, we need each other. We are the Body of Christ here on earth to show the world who He is.

So we can be vulnerable, because in our weakness, He’s strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-12).  In our confusion, He is order.  In our uncertainty, He is hope.

 

Like this post? You might like

The Cultural Iceberg: What You Need to Know about Cross-cultural Communication

We Were Missionary Kids. Here’s What My Parents Did Right

Start Here: Expanding your Heart for the Nations Where You’re At

He Said/She Said. You Say? “What do you wish you’d known before you went?