Jonah 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god…..
Jonah 1:6 “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God, perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish”.
Jonah 1:9 So he said to the, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land”.
What the ship’s crew did and what they encouraged Jonah to do is one of the things that I love about cross-cultural ministry. Ministry in other countries or ministry to those now living in the U.S. who were born and raised in other countries produces situations and conversations similar to what took place that day on that ship.
Having been born and raised within American culture, when Jesus called me to Himself and then moved me to tell other people that I lived among about Him, I knew I wouldn’t be well received.
To put it succinctly, I vastly underestimated what came back at me from those I tried to share with.
If looks were daggers, I would have died from blood loss after the first three or four people I tried to talk to. It was a miracle I didn’t end up with frostbite from the “cold shoulders” that were thrust my way as soon as I began talking about Jesus. It was a steep learning curve to say the least.
This isn’t the place to go into detail about American culture, but as any casual observer of cultures learns quickly, Americans are masters at living compartmentalized lives and actually pride themselves that they do so.
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve tried to talk to Americans about Jesus and heard this response, “my faith is very private to me and I don’t like to talk about it”.
But the majority of the cultures of the world don’t live compartmentalized lives.
You can’t separate their religion from their culture–they are tightly interwoven. If you ask them about their gods or their religion, they are happy to tell you about it.
And if their ability to speak English is sufficient, they will usually initiate a conversation with you and eventually get around to asking you about your religion.
If they hear someone, (generally an American or Western European), tell them that their faith is private, they wonder what kind of faith that person has if they aren’t willing to talk about it.
Their logic is, “If that person’s faith is of help to them and is good for them, why wouldn’t they share it with others and pass around the goodness for everyone to benefit from?”
Fellow followers of Jesus, in case you haven’t noticed, the global ship that all of us are on is in the midst of the biggest storm it’s ever encountered.
The broken world in which we live is moving people to cry out to their gods like never before, and the vast majority of none Westerners are expecting everyone else to cry out to their gods too…the situation is that dire.
If ever there were a time for the followers of Jesus that come from America to go against their compartmentalized culture and to cry out to the true and living God for the good of the passengers on the ship and to also tell others about their God so He can be contrasted with all the other gods people’s worship, the time is now!
Missionaries, most of you serve in contexts where people talk freely about their religion and their gods and think you’re strange if you don’t….you’ve been given an incredible privilege.
Please, please, please exercise that privilege, even if it isn’t asked for!
And please pray for those who live in countries and among people whose culture has placed a great value on living a compartmentalized life–your own people back in America, to do the same.
The storm that America is sailing through right now, that God has permitted to engulf it, provides an incredible opportunity for His people to talk about Him and cry out to Him under the watchful eye of those who don’t Him.
Pray that they will seize the moment to do so.