I recently interviewed an experienced, veteran minister who spent many years in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and assisted in training new workers who went on to affect the Middle East in various ways. Here is part of that interview:
2) Your ministry put you in a position where you were able to know and influence a large number of young and new missionaries. What were some of the main things that you tried to teach them?
1. That pleasing God is the only worthy goal in any phase of ministry. Others goals constantly seek to influence us, i.e., fluency in the local language, impressing others, emulating some famous missionary of the past, having a large group of friends, saving money, winning a certain number of converts, not making the mistakes of so-and-so. All these goals, and many other seemingly worthy ones, compete for prominence in our thinking, but when allowed to dominate they can all become idolatrous and all devastating to the psyche, family, fellowship, and personal satisfaction of the worker.
2. Similarly, in language instruction I encouraged students to fo- cus on faithfulness to the language-learning process rather than on achieving results. I taught that faithfulness is our obligation whereas resulting skills are a gift of God, necessarily variable according to His will for each individual. Thus, I hoped, the terrible pressure of expectations in language acquisition would not add to the host of other difficulties and stresses already being experienced by students new to the culture of Jordan, and, counter-intuitively, the freedom from pressure would enable the student’s mind to relax itself and acquire language more naturally and freely.
3. I tried to pass on to students some insights into Jordanian culture. I hoped that my descriptions of customs and people of that land demonstrated both the God’s love for the Arabs and the delightful humor that can be derived from cross-cultural experiences.