Compassionately Aware {Book Club}

Compassionately Aware {Book Club}

When we move overseas, we bring our ethnic and cultural baggage with us. We all come with our worldview, the traditions and practices and perspective our home culture and ethnic background has given us.

As we make our home in a new land, we have a choice. We don’t lose our skin color, our heart language, or our ethnic identity, but with humility we look at what needs to be released in order to love well and enter more fully into another culture.

Sometimes, for different reasons I’m sure, this doesn’t happen. Perhaps it is displayed in church traditions that are kept like our home country, rather than adapted to fit with the local culture. Perhaps it looks like superiority, disrespect, or a refusal to see from another’s perspective.

In the last two chapters of section one in Beyond Colorblind by Sarah Shin, the author talks about restoration and redemption.

I know that when I start to think about what those with my ethnic background have done in the past, I can be filled with shame. No, I wasn’t a slave owner or a colonizer myself, but this is part of my history. But there’s hope in what the author shares in these chapters. She said, “When Jesus begins to redeem our ethnic identities, he doesn’t deny the scars, pain, or sin that are in those histories”.

There is no one perfect culture or country, so each place where we serve bears the scars of some type of oppression and injustice. Your ethnicity might not enter into the historical narrative, but perhaps you have a seat to bear witness to what pain has happened in the past.

How God might want to use us to be a catalyst for change and hope might look vastly different. Our roles as outsiders are unique, yet we can also speak up for healing and forgiveness and offer another way. What do you think this would look like in your context?

Although I consider myself a caring person, sometimes it can be easy to push aside deep hurt. I don’t want to enter into another’s pain, especially if I don’t understand it. But Shin offers another perspective as she encourages us to walk with others. She says, “We need to be compassionately aware people who are willing to address our pain and the pain of others.”

No matter where we are or the history of our country or ethnicity, this is an incredible gift we can give to each other.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these two chapters!

What does it look like for you personally to be compassionately aware in your passport country versus your host country? What about with those who are similar ethnically to you and those who are different?

In chapter five, the author talks about righteousness and justice coming from the same Greek word, dikaiosune. What does pursuing both righteousness and justice mean for us as cross-cultural workers?

Next week we will start the 2nd section of Beyond Colorblind! Here’s the schedule:

November- Part 2

November 3: Chapter 6

November 10: Chapters 7 & 8

November 17: Chapter 9

November 24: Chapter 10

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash


  1. Rachel Kahindi October 28, 2020

    I had not heard about the Greek dikaiosune before reading these chapters! That is so interesting that justice and righteousness are related to each other linguistically in Greek. It makes me think of the first chapter of Isaiah. (Maybe this was mentioned in the book?) The Israelites were offering sacrifices and keeping rituals, they thought they were righteous, but they were not seeking justice.

    [[[My kids keep talking to me, and I’m having trouble maintaining a train of thought, but I’m going to try.]]]

    To do both – to be righteous and seek justice – is complex! In the region of the world I live in, with its history of British colonization, people who look like me are assumed to be in charge of things. I should not be in charge and there are many people here who should – can I use the privilege I am given to lift up local leaders? Another layer of complexity is that the church tradition I grew up in (which I believe contributes a lot to my ethnicity) tends to pit “social justice” against evangelism. As if to address the needs of people in this life, you must not care about their eternal souls. And to care about their souls you must ignore their physical needs. We need to get over that. For people who are struggling to survive, a gospel without justice is no gospel at all.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 29, 2020

      Rachel, I was raised in a similar church culture that said evangelism and social justice could not coincide. I think that was part of why righteousness and justice coming from the same root word really stuck out to me! I agree, I feel like we must have both- this reflects the whole of who we are.

  2. Amanda Hutton October 29, 2020

    This book is stretching me in a new way! One of the biggest takeaways for me in these chapters is acknowledging hurt. I personally do not have strong feelings related to my ethnicity (such as hurt, shame, etc.), but others do, and it is SO important to validate those feelings, just as I would with any other pain they are feeling. Even though it is uncomfortable, it is such an amazing opportunity to share the true heart of the Gospel–redemption. I agree, Sarah, that it seems easier to push aside deep hurt, but how can we be freed from hurt we do not acknowledge? The Father offers us a lighter yoke, but first we need to give up the heavy ones. I have been mediating on Isaiah 58 since finishing the most recent VA retreat (which was fantastic, btw!!), and something that really has been striking me is the concept of loosing all chains of every yoke, so that we may experience TRUE freedom and redemption.

    “And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
    and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
    12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
    you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.”
    -Isaiah 58:11-12

    **And I’m with Rachel–my thoughts are generally scattered due to my babies!!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 30, 2020

      Isaiah 58 is one of my favorites! Thank you for sharing that, Amanda! True freedom and redemption- that is what I ache for when I think of all the ways we still struggle with each other as humans, the ways we allow our differences to push us apart. There is deep work of reconciliation that needs to be done- and what a sweet gift you can give to others as you validate their hurt and experiences! I know that’s something I need to keep growing in too.

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