What a time we have had here in Union Mills, NC! If you haven’t heard of Union Mills—well neither had we! It is out in the middle of nowhere—near Rutherfordton, NC! It is even smaller and more remote than Wellington, CO!!
But, we have learned so much here! We addressed the things that will be ending—the things that will change and end during this time of transition. We have wrestled with questions about “What is Truth”? and “What is Sin—and are there different ‘cultural definitions of sin’”? My ethnocentricity was revealed—and challenged! One of the most impactful illustrations was about a monkey and a fish.
“A typhoon had temporarily stranded a monkey on an island. In a secure, protected place, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed obvious to the monkey that the fish was struggling and in need of assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.
A tree precariously dangled over the very spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down and snatched the fish from the threatening waters. Immediately scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments the fish showed excitement, but soon settled into a peaceful rest.” We began to tackle the challenge of how do we contextualize the Gospel for the culture we are going to without changing the message! And in the midst of all this, my appreciation for the Gospel was deepened.”
How often am I like a monkey—just trying to do what I think might be best for someone, but not really understanding where they are coming from, what their true needs are, what their culture is! May we not be monkeys as we head to Ometepec!
We examined various views of culture—and as missionaries what our role is in reforming or changing the culture. I particularly like this quote from Gay Hubbard: “We are not called to reform the culture as such. We are called, rather, to transform the world by living out a radical alternative that the world cannot know apart from the lives of God’s people. Certainly we will influence the culture. How, in view of the resurrection reality can we not do so? For God’s people, influence on the culture is a by-product of their transformed lives.”
And this is what I have been most encouraged about—the transforming work of the Gospel—in my life and throughout the world! A quote we talked a lot about over the course was one by Tim Keller:
“You are more sinful than you ever dared believe, yet you are more loved than you ever dared hope, at the same time, because Jesus lived and died in your place.”
At times I felt like my worldview, my value system, and maybe even my faith were being rocked! But now I see that they were being refined—and are still in the process of being refined! I like what C.S. Lewis said, “My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?” God has upset my small box that I have put Him in! He doesn’t fit in it—no matter how hard I try to make Him! I pray He will continue to shatter my “ideas” of who He is and replace them with more of Himself as He really is!
The Lord is growing me in new ways. I am more excited about the adventure before us—and more aware of how difficult it will be. I am more confirmed in His calling—and yet more aware of my inadequacy for the task ahead! But the Lord is faithful—He has proven that over and over to us!
Thank you for being a part of this journey—through prayer, through support, through encouragement! We are so thankful for you! May the Lord encourage and bless you as you journey with us!!
Kept in His grace,