The third Missionary Mistake I have made and would like to present is that of “Culture Shock”.
Some may ask, is culture shock real or is it just in your head. I am not sure I could tell you how valid it is, but allow me to tell you some of our experiences. When we left the United States, we began with language school in Peru. Since it was only my wife and I in the class, it should not have been too hard, … but when my language school teacher only spoke Spanish and could not understand when I asked him a question, I got pretty frustrated. Ok, I will be honest, I said a few words here and there in his face knowing that he didn’t understand in Spanish (I have since confessed those things ). When arriving to Argentina, I on accident said words that were cuss words in Argentina that were not cuss words in Peru. I walked into stores and wanted to buy something simple and had to tell them what I wanted at one counter, pay at another counter, give the receipt at another counter, and pick it up at the last counter. I was now having culture shock!!
Having culture shock began to turn my heart to dislike certain people or to not want to make purchases, etc. I found out that culture shock was real, but the real truth behind it was the devil trying to discourage me to quit. Were the people really bad? Was the culture really backwards? Or was I the one who was backwards and needed an attitude adjustment.
More than once I have had to remind myself that it was the Lord who placed me here. If I came because I wanted to, then I could leave, … but if the Lord truly led me here, then I can get over this problem. Truly the battleground of the devil is in the mind more than anywhere else. So I can win with Christ on my side, I can overcome the temptations, the depression, and the discouragement. Not only do I need to overcome it, but as the spiritual leader of the house, I need to help my wife and family overcome it as well.
The attitudes produced by culture shock can determine my future. I can “clam up” and not let the people or culture frustrate me, or I can decide that God has led me. If I can not get over these things, the devil wins and the future of others (especially future leaders) are now at risk.
A few things that help me not let the culture shock knock me down, are the following:
#1 – Laugh even when it should hurt. I am the one who determines what affects me, nothing has to hurt me unless I allow it to.
#2 – Pray when I feel down. Although this may seem so easy for many, it is often a step I neglect in my own life when I very much need it.
#3 – Call a friend, take a walk, … just breathe some
#4 – Realize my God is not finished with me yet!
So I challenge you as I challenge myself, decide now that the devil will not win this battle and know how to lift the Sword when the culture shock comes. I pray many, many more people will hear, and leaders will be produced because we continue strong for our Lord, not letting culture shock keep us down!