UFM mission worker, Grace Njuguna, spent three years on the Cornhill Training Course, where she undertook a placement at All Saints Church, Crowborough. She is now serving long-term in youth and children’s ministry in Kenya. Here she shares her experience of coming to the UK and offers thoughts for churches wanting to welcome cross-cultural mission workers.
Living and serving in the UK was exciting but also very scary, at least at first. It meant having an open attitude to learning, overcoming my fear of trying the unknown, and not being afraid of making mistakes.
I enjoyed my time in the UK and felt welcomed into my new church family. Two things made me feel at home: firstly the wonderful reception right from when I arrived at the airport. I found my hosts eagerly waiting to receive me. They also provided the orientation I needed and were always willing to answer my endless questions as I tried to understand the culture.
Secondly, there was the excellent hospitality from my host church family. I cannot count the times I have been invited to Sunday roasts and dinner parties by members of the church family, which helped build relationships.
A major challenge was the task-oriented culture. Everyone seemed to be rushing somewhere, which felt very unfriendly at first!
Despite having many good times in this new country, I also faced challenges. The first was getting used to the fast pace of life in the UK. I worked in a big church. It took time for me to adapt to the busy rhythm of life. Another major challenge was the taskoriented culture. Everyone seemed to be rushing somewhere, which felt very unfriendly at first! However, I realised that it was because I viewed people from the lenses of my African culture and, when I took a step back, I recognised that people were actually very hospitable.
There are a few simple, yet important, things that I would love to recommend to churches seeking to welcome cross-cultural mission workers. Provide pastoral support and care; be patient, especially in the first few weeks as they settle into a different culture; and seek to make them feel part and parcel of the church family.
Provide pastoral support and care; be patient, especially in the first few weeks as they settle into a different culture.
As I think about the whole issue of crosscultural mission, Revelation 7:9a comes to mind, where people from all nations will be gathered before the Lord: “After this, I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.’’
One of the things I appreciate from living in a new culture is embracing what is different. There is beauty in diversity. God is pleased to bring people from all nations and walks of life to himself.
One of the things I appreciate from living in a new culture is embracing what is different. There is beauty in diversity.