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Cross has power for all cultures
by Tania Nelson
Did you know that cross-cultural ministry is alive and well in the Lutheran Church of Australia? Now that doesn’t mean that ministering cross-culturally is without its challenges. Nor does it mean that we can’t do more. Actually much, much more is required!
In March 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the following media statement:
‘The proportion of Australians who were born overseas has hit its highest point in over 120 years, with 28 per cent of Australia's population born overseas, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).'
The media release goes on to say that the largest gains in net migration from overseas were in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland (in that order). This statistic – that more than a quarter of Australians were born overseas – is an amazing challenge for local mission in the LCA.
Are our congregations, schools, and aged-care facilities multi-cultural and inter-cultural communities? Are we welcoming, inclusive, loving? ‘Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:37–38 NRSV).
The following are some wonderful insights into lay worker and pastor labourers in cross-cultural ministry. May I challenge you to think of yourself as a labourer – a labourer who is welcoming, who includes others, and who brings love to life in your community?
Tania Nelson is the LCA’s Executive Officer – Local Mission.
LUTHERAN BIBLE TRANSLATOR WITH WYCLIFFE BIBLE TRANSLATORS
My ministry area is … Bible translation in Papua New Guinea. Half the time I live in a remote village (Ubuoo) among the tribe I am working with (the Kope people). The other half of the time I live at our organisational base in the Highlands, where I am surrounded by my colleagues from many nations.
I love … working alongside people who are passionate to have God's word in their language and to see it change the life of their community.
Some of the challenges of this ministry are … learning a language from scratch, without a textbook or classes to guide the way; building good relationships while struggling to communicate; living off grid in a village house; and always being in transition between the village and our base and between PNG and Australia.
I’ve learned along the way … to be more relaxed about time and to have many plans as they will surely change; and to listen to the people around me, as they are the experts on their language and culture, and I am the learner.
Pastor Brian Shek
LCA National Asian Ministries Coordinator
My ministry area is … coordinating Asian ministry in the LCA. This includes collaboratively formulating the vision, goals and strategies of the ministry; training and meeting lay leaders and committees; and connecting with other Asian church leaders so we can care for Asian Lutherans moving to Australia.
I love … seeing a non-Christian coming to faith in Christ … seeing young people from Asian congregations commit their life to church ministry … seeing the church take up cross-cultural ministry as an essential and integral part of its ministry and mission. I dream of seeing people from our Asian congregations participating in church boards and committees. I love going to a Chinese restaurant or the supermarket to meet and help strangers. These people are our new neighbours and are ready to make friends.
A challenge of this ministry is … that ministry workers are difficult to find. I am sure the Lord of the Harvest is calling people. The harvest is on our own doorstep. Where are the missionaries to the ‘gentiles’ just living in our neighbourhoods?
I’ve learned along the way … to be a careful listener. The same word in a different cultural context can mean very different things, and sometimes can mean something exactly
SA/NT District Aboriginal Ministry Far West Coast Field Worker
My ministry area is … Aboriginal ministry, serving Anangu people in the Yalata community.
I love … the way the children share nature with me. They have brought baby birds in the nest, tiny baby mice, baby wombats, head lice, and
a dead death adder to my house.
Some of the challenges of this ministry are … that social organisation of the Aboriginal people I work with is very different from my own expectations and that they are caught between cultures. They have to manage our money, but their more communal lifestyle and broader definition of family make it very difficult for them to do this in the way we expect.
I’ve learned along the way … to wait on God’s leading and not to expect clear answers to my rational questions.
Read the full story in the March issue of The Lutheran.