Here we are at the last section in Becoming More Fruitful in Cross-Cultural Work. I’m glad we’ve walked through this, because even though I studied this and wrote the book (!), God still has more for us to learn. This rewiring takes time and needs to be holistic, thus the upward, outward, and today the inward focus. So far we’ve talked about metrics, upwardly oriented fruit that points to God, and outwardly oriented fruit that we see most clearly in our interactions with others.
Today we’ll add the final three fruit to the mix and look inwards as we add gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
I’ll share an except from the chapter on faithfulness:
“VIGNETTE 1: Faithfulness is like a cheerful customs official who has taken an oath to protect the land she serves. After a long and exhausting trip, she greets those who step up to her counter with eye contact and asks about their trip. She’s been charged with the dual job of processing entrances and protecting against threats, both duties she takes seriously. Those who will benefit and enjoy the country she serves are welcome, while those who seek to do ill are not. She arrives to work on time, doesn’t cut corners, and gives all who step up to her counter their due attention. The land is safe because of her.
“VIGNETTE 2: Faithfulness is like a symphony made up of sections composed of multiple instruments. The instruments work together for the sake of the piece of music set before them. Not all instruments will play at the same time, so they watch the conductor and come in when cued. Faithfulness trusts in the power of many smaller sounds working together over the course of the piece of music to create something larger than any one player or sound. The standing ovation she receives is because the many became one.
“VIGNETTE 3: Faithfulness is like Chinese xiaochi (shao-chir) or tapas first enjoyed by a foreigner. Seeing three little bowls set before him, he might wonder if he’ll go home hungry. But as the meal goes on, the second wave of three little bowls, and then the third and fourth and even fifth waves of little bowls, are brought out by the server. The little bowls of food individually don’t look like much. Over the course of the meal, bowl by bowl they make a meal, even a feast, leaving a guest satisfied.
“Each parable highlights an aspect of faithfulness. Customs officers might not have the most glamorous job, but what they do is vital to a country. Faithfulness that cheerfully shows up day after day, like that customs official, provides for the greater good. In truth, she impacts people she’ll never know and who will never know her. The image of a symphony highlights timing and volume. There are times when being faithful to our host culture is the primary sound and other times when being faithful to a relationship or obligation or a policy we signed needs to be heard. Often two or more sections will be playing at the same time. We’re not simply ‘faithful’ or ‘unfaithful.’” (128-130)
Which of these vignettes stands out to you today? What about it captures (or challenges) you?
I look forward to our final discussion tomorrow!
Book Club this week meets October 26th: 7:00 a.m. MDT/9:00 a.m. EDT