Perspectives from an American Pastor

I’m not a stranger to foreign cultures.  I was born in Indonesia as a child of a missionary family and I have traveled to several places to do and evaluate mission work.  Through these experiences I’ve learned a thing or two about landing in a country for the first time: pack light, don’t make assumptions, and be flexible.  My first time in Africa visiting the various arms of Africa Renewal Ministries only served to affirm what I already knew.

Pack light.  Travel doesn’t always go as planned.  An airline could go bankrupt, or begin a union strike, flights could be rerouted, hotel reservations could get lost, and a phone could be left on the train seat during a harried exit.  All of these happened on my trip!  Traveling light was a blessing during these adventurous times.

Don’t make assumptions.  Many in the U.S. have heard of ARM through the popular children’s choirs that have toured from coast to coast.  While that brings awareness and raises support for the ministry, it can serve an unintended consequence of portraying this ministry as one solely focused on children.  In the ten days that I toured the various ministries, I learned that although much of the focus and resources of ARM do exist to bring children in poverty to a better life, that is not the entire picture.  The goal is to transform a nation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and leadership development of the next generation.  The goal is to be holistic in scope, providing education, healthcare, leadership development, and higher education while partnering through the local church.

Be flexible.  As a Westerner, the clock plays a more important role in the ordering of a day than is often necessary.  I have learned that watching the clock only leads to unhealthy and unnecessary fretting about keeping the schedule.  The agenda will happen…eventually, and that’s perfectly fine.  Linger in the relationships while waiting for food or in traffic, and be open to what the Lord is teaching you in all of it.  It’s a tangible reminder that we’re not in control anyway.  Be present, and you will be blessed.

In reality, these three lessons are not only earthly but are more importantly spiritual in nature.  What I am able to observe in new places like Africa is best done when I don’t make assumptions about how God operates in His kingdom, when I’m flexible enough to allow Him to work how He pleases, and when I pack light as I seek to follow after Him.  And isn’t that just where He wants us?

Finally, a big Thank You! to the Ugandan staff who took such good care of our team.  We wanted for nothing, ate well, learned much, and grew in our faith and relationships.  I became acquainted with new brothers and sisters in Christ from the other side of the globe, and I am better for it.

 

For Christ our King,

Eric Cate

Associate Pastor

Currey Creek Church | Boerne, TX

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