A friend of mine sent an article from the Irish Times entitled: “The returned missionaries: ‘I’m more African than I am Irish.’”The article describes the difficult transitions encountered by Roman Catholic missionaries who have lived most of their lives in other cultures and who now are returning to Ireland to integrate back into the culture they grew up in but which feels like an alien land to them.
I’ll admit I quickly scanned the article, but even so, I still found myself able to relate to some of the transition experiences they describe. Although I have not had to move to extremely different cultures in other countries, diverse “cultures” exist wherever people live together and develop patterns, traditions, and so on. In moving as many times as I have, I see cultural diversity even within the Canadian context and certainly between church and society.
Having said that, I just finished listening to a podcast where Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is interviewed about “How Christians Interact with the Culture: The Engagement Triangle.” Here he describes that even though we encounter different cultural patterns than our own, we can still relate to others simply because we are human, are faced with common struggles related to the Ten Commandments, and also have a God who has created us all, preserves us, has redeemed all in Christ and continues to call and gather His lost ones through Word and Spirit.
No doubt transitions are always a challenge, especially the older we get, but being reminded of the Rock we stand on, can carry and sustain us in these times and to relate and bear witness even to those who may have different beliefs, values, and lifestyles.