20-20 vision refers to normal vision based on a standardised optometric test. It can also refer to being able to see with perfect clarity. In 2020 we aim to see an unblinkered, unfrosted view of what AMT workers experience after they hit the field.
We are on the same planet, but differences in languages, cultures, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour so impact our communication and interactions with one another that sometimes it feels like we live in different worlds.
Think for a moment...
Do you know more than one language? If you are multi-lingual, do you have a ‘heart’ language, or do you live in a society where most locals glide from one language or dialect to another, then back again? Would you like to learn a new one?
Are you open to what another culture has to offer, or are you content with what you've already experienced? Are you curious to try a new cuisine whenever you can, or do you play it safe and stick with what’s tried and true for you? Would you visit another religion’s place of worship?
How do you react to someone's alternate beliefs, religious or otherwise? Do you quietly listen or become quickly defensive when you hear a perspective different to what you are used to?
Do differences in attitudes to life offend, intimidate or challenge you? How do you respond to discrimination and inequality based on race, gender and/or religion?
Has the behaviour of a person from a foreign country surprised or even shocked you? What was your response? Was it carefully considered and culturally sensitive?
This year we will get a taste of how our missionaries have faced and adapted to living in a world different to what they were accustomed. Not so long ago many ‘missionary kids’ (MKs) were born on the field. Increasingly, however, perhaps due to shorter terms of service and faster intercontinental travel, children of missionaries are not often born in a country where their parents don’t have permanent residency. Those who are born and subsequently spend their formative years in their birth country, and then travel to their parents’ ‘home’ country, will experience a culture shock similar to their parents when they left that country to serve overseas. If their parents have been away for some years, they may also get reverse culture shock on their return, perhaps for the children’s higher education.
Most of those who write this year were born in Australia, or migrated to Australia, before serving as missionaries in another country. Their background and initial perspective on what they expected before going abroad may be quite like yours. Many will then have faced and adapted to living in a different world, with experiences alien to their previous daily existence. They were willing to learn a new language, build new relationships, engage with a new culture and all its particular beliefs, customs, rituals and idiosyncrasies — all because they recognised the importance of seeing Christ proclaimed widely as Lord of all. What they say may surprise and challenge you. Their journey and experiences may also make you realise that you, too,
can give longer term mission a go.
Editorial by Andrew Chan