Allison Schneck is a 3rd year Intercultural Studies student who interning in Guadalajara, Mexico with the Evangelical Mennonite Conference (Ascend program). Allison is working alongside long-term missionaries in Guadalajara and is focused on language and culture learning.
Learning a new culture has been one of the most amazing, and difficult experiences of my entire life. To be fully submerged in a new culture is a beautiful adventure that never ends. Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin Mayers write in their book, Ministering Cross-Culturally, that “becoming incarnate in another culture will be a trial by fire, a test of inner strength, of personal faith, and most of all a test of the veracity of one’s love. An individual who is not ready to give up being an American for a time, and to begin learning as a child, is not ready for the challenge of cross-cultural ministry.”
We must begin to learn as a child. This month, I’ve begun to understand more and more what Jesus was talking about when he said that “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4, NIV). In order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we need to leave our old, earthly culture behind, and adapt to God’s culture. To do this we need to relearn everything. Everything changes when we enter the culture of Christ.
I don’t believe that every Christian is called to go to a new county and be a missionary there, but I do think that every Christian is a missionary. I do think that every Christian is a pastor. I do think that every Christian is called to full time ministry. I do think that every Christian is called to give up our old, earthly culture and learn God’s culture. Just because we aren’t called to vocational ministry doesn’t mean that we are exempt from the command to love God, then love our neighbour. That’s all that mission is. Just loving God, and loving people. That’s it. I just want to love God, and then love people.
But I need to become like a child to relearn how to love, because sin has broken my ability to do so. The Holy Spirit enables me to learn his culture, so I can love God, then love others.
Part of what I’ve found most remarkable about the ministry in Guadalajara is that it seeks to simply love God and then love others. We’re not building a church building. We’re building a church. We’re not having revival meetings. We’re experiencing revival in our work and in our relationships. This past weekend, we had a convivio, where all the cell groups get together to have fun and share what God’s been doing in their lives. Over thirty people showed up! It was awesome to see how God united the group despite people being from different backgrounds and not knowing each other.
This month we had a prayer team from Canada come and pray for specific situations and people. God listens to the prayers of his children, and it’s amazing to experience that.
This month, we also had a staff retreat at San Pancho. I think the ocean is one of my favorite places in the world. God knows how to give his children good gifts, and this time of prayer, rest, and playing in the waves and sand was one of those good gifts!
Looking ahead to this month, please pray for all the travels that our missionaries will be doing for Christmas. I will be going to Mexico city with my host family and a missionary family for a few days over Christmas.
Please pray that my studies would continue to go well, and that God would give me perseverance and courage to learn whole heartedly.
Please pray that people would experience the hope and joy of the Christmas season in a whole new way; that their eyes would shift from seeing Mary, to seeing God in the form of a baby. Pray that people would see the Creator of the universe here, on this earth, just for us, to teach us how to live in his culture, to actually come to us, and save us!
Oh what a wonderful Saviour!