Thursday, January 9, 2014

On Discovering the Illusory Nature of One’s Superiority

by Joseph Mosse’

God blessed me with great times during the summer of 2013. He led me through challenges, growing me through both lessons and practical experience. One lesson surprised me. It turned a lot of the assumptions I had made on their heads. This summer, God showed me how weakness can be strength, and how that, which I considered my best advantage isn’t as special as I thought. I learned a new way to be humble.

During the second half of June and the first part of July, I had a chance to take part in the ministry of a short term team from America. Every summer it’s usual for me to work with one or two such teams, but this one was special. It was made up of my peers from our church in California. They send a group of high school seniors overseas every year. This time, they were coming to the Ukrainian city of L’viv, just a train ride away from my home in Odessa. We spent about a month together doing all kinds of ministries, from running English camps to street evangelization.

As I worked alongside my friends, I began to notice something crazy. See, whether I consciously thought it or not, I had an assumption down in my brain. I believed that being a missionary kid made me exceptional. In my opinion, anyone who had grown up between two cultures has naturally lived a broader, richer life. While I would never say so outright, I felt that people who had never left America before couldn’t hold a candle to it.  

But I watched in astonishment as these huge, glaring cultural and language barriers that I had learned to abhor became a strength I realized I could not tap. These guys from America talked and played and formed relationships despite the challenges of a language barrier. And because of the difficulty and effort they put into it, their relationships were that much dearer. I could effortlessly talk to anyone around me, but I could not reach the people’s hearts as quickly and deeply as they could. Living in America one’s whole life is not actually something totally grey, boring and unenviable. In my peers, I saw value and strength in something I had never considered worthwhile before, while at the same time understanding that I am not as equipped and experienced as I thought I was. At the end of the day there was nothing left to do but accept the fact that we all have different gifts, and praise God that He can change weaknesses into strengths. That must mean there’s hope for me, too.

This humbling lesson is especially relevant for me as soon I will find myself back in America. If I had gone back with some of my arrogant assumptions still in place, it would make it much harder to forge good relationships with my new peers. Though I still would never trade growing up as an MK for anything the world, I have a new appreciation for those who have had a different experience. Many MKs and TCKs pride themselves in their ability to see and evaluate the world from multiple standpoints. We ought to apply this gift not only to other peoples but to our own countrymen as well.