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Book_eyes_wide_openI 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.