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