Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Foreigner's Advantage?

An Austrian friend stopped by recently to meet with Nate for prayer. As we were discussing with him our efforts to get to know neighbors, we had an interesting discussion about the potential benefits of trying to share the gospel as a foreigner as opposed to an Austrian.

Here in Austria, most people are private and like to keep to themselves. It is uncommon, especially in the Vienna area, for strangers to converse in public places or for friendliness to go beyond your basic gestures (saying hello or thank you, for example). Our friend said that if an Austrian makes an effort to be especially friendly with those he meets, it is often met with skepticism. If, for example, a Christian tries to be friendly with his neighbors and is outgoing in a way that is counter-cultural, most Austrians would ask themselves, "why is he being so friendly? What does he want from me? What's the catch?" They assume that there is some motivating factor behind his behavior and are skeptical about his motives. They might then close themselves off or write him off as being weird.

On the other hand, when Austrians meet a foreigner, they automatically expect them to behave differently than an Austrian would. Americans are known here for being boisterous, outgoing and very friendly (sometimes overly so!). If we reach out to neighbors and are friendly in an atypical way, we are often given a pass. This can open up more doors for us to be open about sharing the gospel with those we meet! 

In many ways, being a foreigner in this culture brings difficulties and challenges. But it was encouraging to hear that it can also be something unique about us that can be a special ministry advantage. Pray with us that God blesses our efforts to reach out to those around us!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Better is the End

Today in my (Nate) Bible reading I finished up Ecclesiastes. Solomon's words rang true in my heart as I read, "Better is the end of a thing than its beginning." Today we closed the first chapter of our interns' summer here with us in Austria. This afternoon they got on a train with one of our former interns and her sister and headed to the Salzburg area to start the second half of their ministry.

suitcases packed and ready to meet their next challenge!These times are always bittersweet. We know that God has been working in their hearts. It is fun to see their understanding of the culture grow and to see how their questions change as they learn and experience more and more. We are blessed and honored to be able to build into these gals and serve them through their time here. 

As we sent them off, we prayed for the students that were going to be in their cabins, that they would continue to seek them out, that they would work hard to build relationships with their campers despite low language confidence and busy schedules. We prayed that they would have energy and push through when times are challenging. 

We are excited to go and visit them after their first full week of camp. We know that this will be a great debrief time to process with them the things they are learning.

Will you pray with us and for them in this season of ministry? Thanks for lifting them up!