I just finished a book I received from Dean Callison, my friend and Director of World Missions at Grace Church. It’s called Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence. Dean put the book in the hands of every person from Grace going on one of our short-term missions trips to Nicaragua and Mauritania in the first half of this year. I am so thankful.
I’ve taken a number of short-term missions trips over the years (to Colombia, Romania, El Salvador multiple times, Uganda, Kenya, Peru, Honduras, Belarus…there’s nothing like Belarus in February!). I had the advantage of receiving wonderful cross-cultural training from a mentor of mine, Dr. Jeff Adams, who was a missionary in El Salvador during the civil war years. This book built on that foundation.
Serving with Eyes Wide Open has become a "must-read" for anyone who is going on short-term missions trip with Grace. David Livermore does a great job of telling painful but true stories which commonly happen on missions trips. Even better, he gives the church a framework for helping their teams grow in these areas by adapting Cultural Intelligence by Christoper Early & Ang Soon (published by Stanford Business School…Go Stanford!)
As I read the book, I found myself asking:
- When should the U.S. church invest heavily in sending people to foreign countries and when would the greater impact be investing in people from their country to do the job?
- How have I fallen into the traps of misunderstanding or oversimplifying cultural differences and viewed our trips different than our national sponsors?
- How can Grace Church do a better job of preparing our short-term missions teams to grow their cultural intelligence (CQ) and see longer lasting results (life changes)?
I recommend that anyone with a leadership role in the church read this book as it will give them a framework for developing their own understanding of cultural differences in their ministry field.
Thank you Dean for the book and continuing to challenge me & our teams to grow. P.S. If you are from Grace and didn’t like the book, feel free to leave Dean negative feedback on his blog. (Kidding.) 🙂
P.S. If you are interested, Livermore recommends some other books to start learning about seeing things from another cultural perspective. I haven’t read any of them yet, but these include Kohl’s Developing Intercultural Awareness, Storti’s Cross-Cultural Dialogues, Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Lahiri’s The Namesake, Dooling’s White Man’s Grave, Yun’s The Heavenly Man, and Mandela’s A Long Walk to Freedom.