WMU Blog

Try Something New: Explore Cultures

two women sitting at table

Cultures are unique aspects of groups who share specific backgrounds or geographical locations. While some cultures vary more than others, every culture has unique customs and beliefs.

Meeting and befriending people from different cultures can be valuable and rewarding. By taking the time to get to know someone completely different from you, you may see many opportunities for gospel conversations arise naturally.

When it comes to learning about new cultures,

Be Genuine

Dietzes at worship service

Jason and Cheryl Dietz were appointed to serve as church planters in Dresden, Germany, in 2006. The part of the world they live in has been called the most secular region on earth. Religion and faith are almost a foreign concept for most, and the Dietzes’ approach is to initiate spiritual conversations with everyone they come in contact with. “Those who show interest hear more and more from us, the whole gospel presentation, and an invitation to respond,” said Mr. Dietz.

Germany: You Should Know These Facts

This month, you'll lead your group in learning about the Dietz family and the gospel work happening in Germany. Exploring many facets of German history and culture will help your group understand the situations and challenges the Dietz family faces every day. Throughout your curriculum, you will learn about:

  • the Berlin Wall,
  • the Leipzig train station (the largest train station in the world),
  • autobahns, or highways, which do not have speed limits,
  • the tech-savvy culture of Germany,
  • and the world's largest science and technology museum.

To dive deeper into understanding the culture and people of Germany, here are some additional fun facts you can share with your group:

Show Love to MKs Transitioning to College in the US

portrait of female college student smiling at camera

Throughout the summer, many International Mission Board workers will send their kids back to the United States to start college. This is an incredibly emotional time for us as parents, and it can be so challenging for our kids as they navigate a new culture—the American culture!

Because these missionary kids—sometimes called third-culture kids (TCKs)—look and sound like other Americans (mine even have a proper Southern drawl), people expect them to feel at home when they come to the States for college. But many of them have spent most of their life outside of the States and the transition for them can be like riding a rollercoaster: both exhilarating and terrifying with lots of ups and downs. Please pray for these kids and for their parents in these next weeks and months.

Here are a few insights and ways to help, in case you have the opportunity to love on some of our kids. It will mean so much to parents who must return to the field and to the kids they leave behind!

My (Not-So-Little) Sphere of Influence

woman on rock platform viewing city

I shifted my weight in my chair during lunch as the speaker encouraged us to consider our roles and write down our circles of influence on a sheet of paper. Well this won’t take long, I thought to myself.

My paper ended up with wife, family member, friend, and employee scribbled on it shyly and slowly so those around me wouldn’t be able to tell how short my list was.

As a young professional, I consider my roles and my routine pretty simple. I go to work, get home around dinnertime, and spend time with my husband. On the weekends, we go to church and sometimes hang out with family or friends. My circle of influence seemed pretty small.

Surely there was more going on outside my comfortable bubble.

Around that time, the Holy Spirit began to convict me about my “boring” routine and how I use my time. Conviction came in the form of Philippians 2:3–4 (ESV):

Go, Make Disciples

mother taking children to playgound

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” —Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

We like routine. Routines are good for us, for our children, and for our overall predictability of life. Typically, we shop in the same places, eat in the same restaurants, and go to church with people who are familiar to us. We drive the same routes, run the same paths, and keep a pretty consistent schedule of events from year to year.

As a pastor’s wife, it’s easy for me to find myself surrounded by believers (or those who have heard the gospel) all the time. It takes effort for me to look beyond the people of our church and in my immediate circles to see the unreached surrounding us next door.

The Book of Matthew tells of how Jesus reached out to those who were diseased and afflicted—those in need of healing and a Savior. These people were probably not a part of His normal routine. They were outside of His usual crowd of disciples.

When Trauma Is Ongoing

Helping preschoolers

When we think of preschoolers who experience trauma, we might think of a child who has gone through a tornado or house fire, a car accident, or witnessed a violent event. These are all one-time events, even though the consequences of these events might last a long time. What about preschoolers who deal with trauma on a regular basis? I’m thinking of a preschooler who is dealing with a serious chronic health condition or has a family member with a continuing health condition. Some preschoolers live with the ongoing trauma of living with a parent who has an addiction or substance abuse disorder. Other examples are preschoolers who live with a parent or sibling who has mental illness or those who live in a household in which there is domestic violence and emotional abuse. These preschoolers live in a constant state of fear because their trauma is ongoing.

Sharing Life: Develop a Heart for the World

people at a dinner table

Anyone who knows Charity Powell knows her heart for the world. Those who don’t know her soon learn. A world map in her office pinpoints past mission trips. Strings crisscross to photos with special meaning for each trip. As she points, Charity describes people and needs in each location—11 countries she visited in 11 months during a World Race to share Jesus and encourage believers. Tears fill her eyes as she recalls the man from Thailand who prayed 30 years for a church. She tells of Asian friends in New York City’s Jackson Heights. A bottle filled with an olive branch, rocks, a piece of a raft, and an orange heart-shaped piece of a life jacket from Greece’s Lesvos beach stands on the table underneath her map.

For a long time, refugees were not on Charity’s map. “I knew if I paid attention, I’d end up in Lesvos.” However, after helping with a refugee fund-raiser, she acknowledged, “The Lord gave me feet to go.”

Unshakable

In 1989, I sat in my living room watching the World Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. As I listened to the announcer covering the game, the TV screen suddenly went black. In a few seconds, the announcer's voice came back on, with a shaky camera showing the stadium. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake had just hit the Bay Area, leaving 67 people dead.

In the few minutes the earthquake shook, lives changed, homes were destroyed, and a baseball game became the least important topic for the day. In those few moments, Americans and the world were reminded that few things in life are truly unshakable.

When we think about politicians or terrorism or crime, we are reminded that life is constantly being shaken. When we think about the death of a loved one, the betrayal of a friend or spouse, the loss of a job, or a sickness, we are reminded that life is constantly being shaken.

Who among us isn't looking for the unshakable? Who among us isn't looking for a solid foundation to build upon?

During the 2018–19 year, GAs, RAs, and CAs will seek out unshakable foundations. What a timely theme this is!

A GA Leader Goes to Burkina Faso

“You are going where?” I heard that question again and again as I told my friends of my next exciting missions adventure with God — going to Burkina Faso to help begin missions education for children. Preparation for this trip recalled one of my earliest mission studies as a new GA leader — missions in Upper Volta. I remembered my group of GAs making paper replica maps of the butterfly-shaped country and learning to spell and pronounce the name of the capital.

“Can you say Ouagadougou?” French is the official language of Burkina Faso, although this country’s heritage is primarily Mossi with the Mooré language widely spoken. With a low literacy rate for those over age 15, the challenges before me were for much more than the pronunciation of Ouagadougou [oh-WAH-gah-DOO-goo]. How would I help women understand the need for missions education and discipleship and equip them to begin?

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