"Are you a Christian? Then you have some part to play in making Jesus known. It may be in another part of the world or it may not. You need to find out how and where God is leading you." - Duane Elmer
...is a challenge that most people won't have to face in their lives. Yet, in our ever-shrinking world, more and more people are finding themselves coming into contact with other cultures, whether through business connections, ministry opportunities, or the immigration of people to our home country. How, then, can we Christians use these opportunities to spread the gospel?
Passing It On
As part of our Outbound training, Abby and I have been reading through a number of books assigned to us by AIM. One of those books has been especially insightful and we wanted to pass along some of the truths we've been learning, in hopes that you may be able to pray for us more specifically and maybe even to aid you when your own life crosses with an unfamiliar culture. The book is called "Cross-Cultural Connections" by Duane Elmer.
Right, Wrong and Different
Culture typically defines the way things are done. Each time a person encounters someone who does things differently than themselves, he tends to label the other person's actions in one of these ways - right, wrong, or different. Often, we see our way as the right way and the other person's way as the wrong way. One of the great challenges of living in a new culture is being able to discern what things are right, what things are wrong, and what things are merely different. As more experience is gained living in a host culture, the lines we draw of right and wrong practices will likely include more labels of "different" and fewer labels of "right" or "wrong". We must be careful, however, that we never label as merely different something that God has explicitly labeled right or wrong. In our particular ministry - theological education - it will be critical for us to have wisdom in identifying cultural differences in light of biblical standards. Please pray that we will faithfully teach God's Word and rightly apply its truths to the cultures we will be living in!
As the author stated...
"If we treat everything as right and wrong, we do a great disservice to the human diversity God has placed in his creation. If we treat everything as a cultural difference, we do a great disservice to the God who authored an uncompromising word of truth."
Our family plans...
...are continuing forward. During the past months, we have been making phone calls and visiting with families and friends whom the Lord has connected us to, sharing our plans for ministry in Africa and praying for the Lord to prompt hearts to join our support team. We have been very encouraged by the response of God's people. Each week at church, it seems, we have people I sing with in choir asking how our fund-raising is going and church members saying that the Lord has led them to help support us financially. Since our last letter, we've updated our numbers in the chart below. We are now at about 22% of our monthly support and have 34% of our one-time expenses already sent in. In addition, three churches and twelve families have committed to help us and are praying about how much the Lord would have them contribute. Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide. We trust that we will; He has always proven faithful!
Also this month...
...I have been accepted to study at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. My desire to teach in a seminary or Bible college in Africa required that I get my master's degree from an accredited seminary. I also needed to be able to complete my studies fully online, as I won't be able to take block classes on campus in the US. I will be studying for a Master of Divinity in Missiology. Of course, this will be a big expense for us and we are planning our personal budget now to provide for the costs. We are committed not to take on any student loans or debt. I feel this is the most responsible way to manage things and we have faith that God can stretch our finances as long as we honor Him in our stewardship. Also, I'm very excited to be able to study at the same school my father graduated from!
Thank you all...
...for your prayers. Once you've read this, would you take a small bit of time to email us back? We would love to hear of any news in your lives and know how we may continue to pray for you. We pray that you are each growing in your walk with the Lord. We pray that the Lord is preparing you for whatever ministry He has in your future. And we pray that the Lord will knit our hearts together during this time of preparation as we all look forward to the work that we will be a part of in Africa - wherever He sends us on that vast continent! God bless you all, dear friends.
- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair
(803) 645-0822 firstname.lastname@example.org