“Don’t allow cultural/ethnical differences to be a hinderance to your evangelism. “
I don’t think before coming to Singapore I was completely prepared and ready for the change in culture. I thought to myself “It’s fine! i’ve been to Singapore before, I’ve also been to China”. But visiting a country on holiday is very different from living in a country. I was going to have to settle down here, make friends and make my home here for the next year.
After all the excitement of being abroad started to die down, the cultural difference became very apparent. I noticed how different I was from everybody else and it made me feel insecure. Little things such as the stares, not being able to eat my favorite meal or see loved ones caused home-sickness. And home-sickness caused me to withdraw inwards and stay to myself for the first month or two. I had become a master of false evangelism; meeting people and talking to them about deep things, but then having no real intention to follow up and water those seeds that were planted.
God began to show me that this love I had for my privacy and isolation was hindering my witness and evangelism. It was hard hearing that because I knew it was true. I wasn’t going the extra mile with people, I was doing little above the bare minimum. After reading the book of Jonah, I understood the danger of getting too comfortable and it was time to switch gears.
“the love of privacy hinders evangelism”
I really did want my year abroad to be a year of me embracing the opportunities presented to me and witnessing to everyone – professing Christians and non-believers. So I started working on it, day by day, little by little.
It truly is a testimony to the goodness of God, because i’ve seen God work on the hearts of the people who I share the gospel with. I’ve seen people desire to read the word, desire to come with me to fellowship, agree to be prayed with and even ask me questions about my faith. It’s all the work of God because before I was able to serve God in this way, there was a lot of purging that had to take place. I had to get out of my feelings and not allow external differences to hinder God’s work.
I had to learn to accept myself the way I am and know that it’s really not about me. I know i’m different here, but it’s not something to feel bad about. I now embrace the differences and use it to bring God glory. My race, ethnicity and hair (ESPECIALLY) are often topics of conversation that I am then able to swing to spiritual things.
During the last 6 months, i’ve learned the true meaning of “going the extra-mile” with people. People don’t always welcome the foreigner, even those who profess Christ. This can be discouraging and start things off on a sour note, but I’ve learned to not let that devalue me or move me into a place of insecurity.
One of my fears before applying for this mission trip was the cultural barrier. Would I get along with my team-mates? Would I be the odd-one-out? Would I complement the team dynamics? After laboring in prayer, these fears were drowned out, and I was able to take the step of faith and put myself forward to serve on the trip. I wonder what would have happened had I not obeyed God when He was calling me away from my place of privacy.
Of course I do still notice the cultural barrier between my team mates and I, but I am no longer ruled by it, instead I pray. I pray to God that he will help me to love them even when they don’t show me love. I pray to God to bring unity where there is disunity. I also pray to God that he will bridge the cultural gap through the common love we have for Christ. He has been answering these prayers!
I feel a lot better about the trip than I did back in October. These lessons will definitely serve me well when i’m out in Cambodia. I’m much better equipped to engage with the cambodian students and have open discussions about faith and beliefs.
I am so grateful to God because he has given me eyes to look past the color of the skin, the accent on the voice, the age, frame or build. I now try to look at every person through the lens of love, as a soul in need of salvation and a person created in God’s image and likeness, sinner or saved.