My Country of Birth Is Now a Foreign Cross-Cultural place. Help me!!

I am turning 66 in a few days. It seems my homeland, The United States of America, no longer feels like a safe place. My wife and I have traveled to several countries to live for short periods of time. And we have many friends from the States who live long term in these other countries. These friends have shared openly with us the challenge of being the outsiders and walking with humility in order to build bridges of love with the people around them. They are constantly asking questions, welcoming advice that is very contrary to their opinions and it touches every aspect of how they live.

  • A wife rides in the back seat of the car and also walks several feet behind her husband.
  • You never put ice in a drink — even though it is tropical hot….
  • You must not let your children play outside in the rain
  • You must only drink after you finish eating.
  • There is no special foods for breakfast… you eat leftovers from supper.
  • How to greet someone.

I BELIEVE I UNDERSTAND MY ROLE AS A FOLLOWER OF JESUS BETTER WHEN I VIEW THE USA AS A NEW AND VERY DIFFERENT PLACE TO LIVE. THIS BLOG FROM — lhttps://www.alifeoverseas.com/strangers-in-covidland/

Strangers in Covidland

by EDITOR on JUNE 10, 2020

by Katie Hoffmann

Blurry-eyed after 36 hours of flying with kids, we handed over our passports. The customs official returned a hearty, “Welcome Home.” 

Those words felt almost digestible as we entered the Seattle International Airport after years overseas working for a Christian non-profit. Although we were grieving all the goodbyes, I felt ready to embrace my country of origin once again. 

Despite my best intentions, reverse culture shock struck in a big way. We had little to no training in re-entry. This left me feeling paralyzed by stuff that should be easy like trying to keep kids quiet in the library or driving on the right side of the road. 

After three years stateside, I’ve gladly regained those skills, but occasionally, I fall flat and feel overwhelmed by culture shock again. 

Recently, we moved again to a new country, except this time our passport wasn’t stamped. It was a sudden departure without glamour and thankfully no cobras. Here’s the funny part: We haven’t even left our house except for one of us who is deemed an “essential worker.” 

Covidland is my new country and once again I must reorient. 

Actions I once thought were normal like talking to a person nearby now have both different implications and results. The way people greet each other is foreign. Elbows? A curtsy? This feels awkward. Can I just use a southeast Asian greeting? 

Classes are now on new platforms of technology. My kids are expected to learn technical culture, as we parents wade through murky waters of Internet security with youngsters. But, unlike with Zoom we can’t mute all the static, conspiracy theories, rude language and stuff that hits us on all ends during this unique time. Divisive warfare is erupting all around me. To relate in this new country is requiring deflecting skills, because the arrows of mindless attack are piercing our community. 

I’m dumbfounded as I find myself jerked between a polarized nation offering two heated sides of opinion and the irony of 40 different cereal choices. Sides have been drawn without healthy nuance, and I’d like to bury my head in my cereal but I can’t. 

I’m exhausted. 

I’m regretting not getting more pre-field training, but some moves happen too fast and necessitate learning on the job. 

As I pull my face out of my Coco Puffs, I remind myself that I must not become complacent no matter which country I reside in. We as the church can never stop being a student of the culture around us. We don’t get a free pass on cultural understanding just because we have a right to act a certain way. 

In a society that for too long has defined churches by buildings and programs, we can easily forget that God’s main directives have not changed and despite a lot of changes around us, we are not banned from loving our neighbor or even sharing the gospel. 

How I interact in my new country and culture will ultimately open or close doors to people’s receptiveness to the Gospel message. 

So I ask the hard questions… 

In a nation that is so often an either/or nation can we choose to be a both/and person? Can we bridge to people in many different groups? 

Can we care about American liberties and still choose to wear a face mask to a store no matter where we stand on the issue? Yes. Can we support small business and physically distance to show care for the more at-risk folks? Yes. Can we request our state government reassess our phases of local reopening and do it in a way that respects others? Yes. Can we both disagree with someone’s opinion and support their family? Yes. Can we do this all in a loving way? Yes! 

As believers we need to be keeping the main thing the main thing. Yes, I know, loving the multitude of neighbors can and will feel stretching and uncomfortable, because culture bridging is real. I’ve experienced that in my home state and overseas. Overseas, dressing in long pants and sleeves in 90-degree tropical weather felt horrid at times, but I knew my neighbors would disrespect me and it would not be loving to disrespect the people around me in conservative Muslim regions by wearing shorts and a tank top. I gladly sweated for the opportunity to connect with those in my community. 

Will we gladly wear a mask into a store and not tear apart the store clerks who are simply enforcing what they’ve been told to do? Just like in my experience overseas, clothes are contextual. In situations where others are uncomfortable it behooves me to be sensitive to that. In other cases where people don’t care, it then becomes my own choice based on research. 

Culture stretching and culture shock happen even when people look the same and own the same passport. It can be more difficult and blindsiding because when we look alike we expect to have the same internal wiring, but we often don’t. Might I be so bold as to say many of us are sliding into culture shock? 

If we aren’t careful culture shock will cause us to attack the neighbor instead of bridging the gap. Because let’s be frank, we’ve all moved to a new land and you are well past phase one of culture shock. The homemade bread- making and binge-watching Netflix is over. You have moved on and if you aren’t careful you won’t pull past it without a lot of destruction. 

Store workers and government officials will not forget your face if you, in a fit of rage, mock or tear them apart. If you reach out later to them to share the message of Christ’s redeeming love, good luck. 

I’ll never forget the day in Southeast Asia when another mother chastised me for letting my daughter play out in the rain. “Illness doesn’t come from dirt or germs! It comes from the rain and wind.” She scolded me. 

I was struggling with culture shock that week and I wanted to do things MY way. I took a deep breath and said, “Thank you for caring about my kids. I’m new here and still learning.” I knew at that moment I had a right to let my daughter play in the rain. I had a right to my own free speech. I hated to be chastised by another woman, but I swallowed my pride. My words needed to reflect our human connection and not a state of winning. 

Let us not forget our humanity. Let us be mindful of how we approach the ever-shifting cultures around us. No matter where you stand on how things are operating in Covidland, let your actions and words build bridges and not walls. 

We are all new here and we are all still learning.

THIS IS NOT FAIR! THIS IS WRONG!

THIS is not right!

Many, make that most of the people in the Bible had good reasons to declare, “This is not right!”  or “This is unjust!” or “This is not fair!” or This is WRONG!

Joseph could have said it over his treatment by his brother and imprisonment by his boss.

David could have said it over his relationship with King Saul or his son Absalom.

Ruth could say it while burying her husband and her sons in a foreign land.

Jesus could have said it about the person slapped in the face.

Jesus could have said it as he was beaten and crucified.

Paul could have said it from prison.

Paul could have said it from being shipwrecked.

John could have said it while imprisoned on the island.

BUT THEY DIDN’T.

Joseph said he would rather forgive because God took what was intended as evil and used it for good.

David said he would trust God by waiting for God to make him king and God would deal with King Saul.

Ruth saw God bless her with a child and give Naomi a grandson to cuddle.

Jesus said to turn the other cheek.

Jesus said, Father forgive them.  They do not know what they are doing.

Paul said persecution gave him the opportunity to fellowship in the sufferings of Jesus.

John said God came to him on his island prison and revealed the future so he could comfort and challenge the church.

Read 1 Peter 2:21-3:6.  Slaves being treated unjustly and wives with prideful husbands who refuse to acknowledge Jesus are to pour love and respect into their relationships.  The example they should ask God to help them be like is seen in Jesus.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. . . you must follow in his steps. . . . He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.  He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.”  (1 Peter 2: 21 and 23 portions, NLT)

How we respond when we are treated unjustly is a great opportunity to love as God loves and to show off the new life given when we had our spiritual birth.

BEING TREATED UNFAIRLY?  How can you love the troubling person/enemy?  Unfair treatment is a great opportunity to let the light shine. 

God’s View on My Fear

YES — We are living in days of uncertainty and restrictions. YES — It is challenging to even know who or what our hindrances and challenges are around us. YES — There are many conversations and news stories that stimulate a spirit of anxiety.

Try this for a response to your fear filled heart.

Psalm 2 — YES — there are enemies and rebellion against God alive and well in the world — but the call is to humble surrender and trust before the King

Psalm 131 — YES — there many decisions we face that feel overwhelming but we can talk to our soul and invite it to be with trust and hope in God like a weaned child with his/her Mom.

My Grandson – Abel – a weaned child! Can I rest in God’s arms like this!

Philippians 4: 6-7 — Be deeply aware of our anxiety and inability to make plans for just a few weeks out — can bring bring me to a place of calling out to and naming all of our concerns to our God. One can only really recognizes a suddenly calming in the air when we have been walking in a strong wind. One only recognizes an inner peace from God’s touch when we have been in a very anxious unsettled place.

1 Peter 2:11-12 — We are not the first to be in days of challenge, loss and uncertainty. There is a vision of how God is our safe place in these two verses which stirs up quiet hope. Here are a few phrases from The Message New Testament.

'Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles (WHERE IS OUR TRUE HOME ADDRESS?  THERE IS NO CV19 VIRUS IN THE KINGDOM) to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (IF YOU ARE HOME AND AWAY FROM A NORMAL RHYTHM AND ACCOUNTABILITY -- BE ON GUARD WITH WHAT YOU SET BEFORE YOURSELF.) Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds (EVEN IN THIS CLIMATE THERE ARE GOOD DEEDS THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL PROMPT US TO SEE AND CREATIVE IDEAS ON HOW TO STEP OUT AND BE THE HANDS OF A LOVING GOD) and glorify God on the day of visitation. ' 

What helps you see fearful stuff from God’s perspective? Share your best thoughts.

ROY KING — SERVING MEN AND WOMEN TO BE FRUITFUL AND VIBRANT CHRIST FOLLOWERS FOR A LIFETIME

If I can serve you in coaching, consulting or training let me know


Roy King (age 65)
Married to Pandora since 1976.
Two adult married children and three grandchildren
American Church – Pastor of Mission, Senior Pastor
Seminary – 27 years as Professor of Leadership at CIU and Staff in Development, Financial Aid and Alumni
Non-Profit Organizations – Cru, Billy Graham Center, MTI board member, Streams of Living Water
Contribution: Leadership Coaching, Organizational Consulting, Adult Training for 30+ years / 10 countries
Primary Function: Launch a new work, Rework a declining or plateaued work, Self-Leadership Coach

Sermon – Grieving = Saying “Goodbye”

I had the opportunity to preach Sunday August 11 at Seacoast Vineyard Church in Myrtle Beach, SC. Pandora and I share briefly about our work in the Arab world and then I preached.

The main idea: Change will always result in loss and all losses must be grieved.

What is the first instance of grieving in the Bible? See Genesis 6:6.

What is God’s purpose for giving us the coping skill, a means of grace in grieving?

Here is a link to the entire service. May God use it so his church grieves with hope!

CLICK HERE

Every Problem and Struggle I have is Rooted in Relationship

All of my problems are relationship problems. Usually they revolve around how I use my words. A CIU alumnus, Paul Tripp, offers great insights on our words in his weekly devotional.

“There’s an amazing proverb that Eugene Peterson translates: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.“ (Proverbs 18:21, The Message)

How do you use words to “give life“ to your friendship? Does it mean that you quote Scripture incessantly? Should you continuously point out the sin in others? Are you allowed to talk about sports or the weather?

There’s probably no better guide about how to talk with friends than Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)

This verse, and all of Scripture, doesn’t give us a pre-approved vocabulary list to use or avoid; instead, it teaches us how to speak with a biblical agenda. There are three aspects of that agenda:

Consider The Person

“…only such as is good for building up…”

Gospel-centered communication is always other-centered communication. The Apostle Paul says I should never say anything to a friend that is not helpful for them. My words must not be spoken from a self-centered agenda where I am seeking to establish my will in the friendship, but spoken from an ambassadorial agenda, where I seek to be part of what the King is doing in the life of my friend.

Consider The Problem

“…as fits the occasion…”

Before I speak, I must think about what my friend is struggling with and what they most need at the moment. Do they need encouragement, comfort, hope, direction, wisdom, courage, rebuke, warning, forgiveness, patience, teaching, correction, thanks, insight, a job description, or something else? My words must be shaped by an awareness of their need.

Consider The Process

…that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Gospel-centered communication is not just about the content of my words, but how they are spoken. Often I choose to say the right thing, but in the wrong way or at the wrong time. Confronting a teenager five minutes before they leave for school is not helpful, even if the content is accurate. Rebuking a friend for an offense in front of others is not beneficial, even if they need to be confronted. Asking your spouse to consider how they hurt you as they are trying to get to sleep might not be the best time, even if you do need to reconcile.

Here is what we all must remember: God has a bigger agenda for our friendships than we do. These relationships are designed to be workrooms for redemption, not shelters for human happiness.

What do your words reveal? Are you settling for your own definition of personal happiness when God’s purpose is nothing short of conforming us to the image of Christ?

If we are ever going to give grace when we talk, we need grace to free us from our bondage to ourselves so that our words may be liberated to be used by God.”

My Challenge

Will I live with a daily awareness of how potent God has created my words to be? He uses words to create our world, and communicate his heart and truth to us. Jesus is logos “the Word”. We bear God’s image as word empowered creation.

I have two types of words — internal (my inside talk in my head) and my external words (using my physical vocal organs to spew words into the world). Both types need to be under the rule of God’s Spirit. Godly words come from a humble surrender to hold my words, think before I speak, restrain the timing, and examine my motive behind my words.

HOW IS GOD RESHAPING YOU BY RESHAPING HOW YOU USE WORDS? LET ME HEAR FROM YOU.

Growing as a Witness to the Good News — practical steps

You can view this document at:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14OocF5CVvKwIvGH23OMQrrzu0bK_jZgSyXstWSCvy-U/edit?usp=sharing

Dear Good Friend,

Around the first of the year you mentioned a challenge you were facing of desiring to be more consistent in your witness to the good news of Jesus.  What a great growth goal! I also seek to grow as a witness as well. I have prayed over your desire the last few months for both of us. Here are some thoughts and actions that are helping me and I thought they might have some value to you in your quest.

Thanks for being vulnerable and open in our friendship.  May this year be a year of greater boldness, greater love of others, and greater open doors for us to share how Jesus can take away death and fill the future with eternal life in God’s presence.

  1. WHAT I PRAY ABOUT IS WHAT I DO.  Praying passionately for God to fill us with boldness and help us see each person as he does and causes being a witness to move up as a priority for me.  My priorities are what will get a share of my time, money and other ways I can give.
    1. Begin to pray with another person regularly as soon as you put something like a trip, cruise or opportunity to be an influence with others.
    2. Pray for eyes to see as God sees, spiritual ears to listen for promptings of the Spirit, and wisdom to know how to mix grace and truth as you begin conversations.
  2. WITNESS IS ABOUT GIVING AWAY WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO ME.  Go through the day watching and listening. Lean into learning about others.  To listen in an engaged fully present manner is a great act of love. Ask questions.  Listen more. Look for a way to serve and/or give to the person. We are perhaps most like God when we give generously from open hands…”For God so loved HE GAVE…”
  3. LISTEN FOR WAYS THE GOOD NEWS CONNECTS TO THEIR SPECIFIC BAD NEWS.   The love of Jesus has relevance to every area of life from time management to parenting to crisis.  Listen for the bridge.
  4. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO YOU.  There are folks who can greatly benefit from the wisdom and life experience God has led you through.  Johnny Miller told me years ago, “Don’t try to fit into someone else’s approach to evangelism — use who you are.”  He went on to share that since he was a teacher evangelism for him used that gifting. What has God shaped you to be and offer to others in his name?  Financial advice and counsel; Business with integrity, Planned giving, Long Term Care — what is in your treasure box? Remember in the Bible witness is a noun not a verb.  That means it is part of my identity and an activity I stick into my life. If I see an accident I AM A WITNESS, I do not go out witnessing?
  5. WE NEVER SEEK TO CONTROL THE RESULT.  “Evangelism is simply sharing Christ, in the power of God’s Spirit, and leaving the results to God.”  — Bill Bright

I focus on the inputs and let God worry about the outputs.  I focus on depth and let God be in control of the breadth. Each of these familiar statements remind us of a tension.  There is our obedience, as we step out in faith, and there is God’s part that involves the surgical loving hand of the Spirit bringing a new birth.  I heard Robertson respond to a question about our part and God’s part that has been a clear guide for me. I will paraphrase what has stuck from his words.

How do we know the difference between natural strengths or talents and gifting of the Spirit?  Scripture gives no clear demarcation. If you have it use it! He probably leaves it fuzzy so we will participate humbly and not be showing off our offering.

How do we know if an inner prompting or “whisper of the Spirit” is of God or just my thoughts?  Well if it aligns with God’s truth we know it is not deceit from the dark forces. So — it is either a direct conversation by the Spirit with our spirit.  Remember, the Spirit operates with us in our daily life more like a tour guide and not a travel agent. He makes the trip with us and doesn’t just hand us tickets and a itinerary.  If it is from my own thinking, instead of the Spirit, I view it as a His work in making me less consumed with myself and being directed more from a sanctified way of feeling and thinking.  So — either source, and I will probably never know which, is the work of God in me. Go for it!

Feel free to give me a call and we can pray together and add to these ideas with what God is teaching you.

Blessings,

Roy

“God Does Not Do Rabbit Trails”

20180813_174702Pandora is one of my best wise counselors.  During our time in Egypt we were discussing some opportunities to serve with some other ministries.  We both agreed the new open doors fit in our focus for this chapter of our life.  She shared with me, “Roy God does not do rabbit trails.  We need to look for the convergence; how God is fitting these puzzle pieces together.”

That wisdom has set me reflecting before the Lord for his perspective on our life.  Where do we sense God’s converging work? I see it as the Lord mixing baking dough.  As he dusts the dough with a new ingredient he gently works the dough with his hands until it is consistently worked through.

For us the dough seems to have two primary ingredients; individual people and ideas.  In the past month I have spent time with four different leaders in churches and ministries.  After our time they would share how helpful the time was and how they had greater clarity for moving forward.  YES!  The Spirit showed up and used me to deliver some of what they needed.  It is fun to deliver God’s mail.

The doors opening for Pandora use her rich background in special education but often branch off in other life on life conversations and burdens to pray for others.

In recent months I have received encouragement and opportunities to do some additional writing projects. Pandora is creating new presentations and also developing tools for consulting.  It seems God is letting us share ideas from what we are learning here and overseas with the people who share our journey.

So — Convergence for us is quality time with individuals and capturing, distilling and sharing ideas.

How about you?  What does convergence look like for your life?  What needs to be pruned or started?