I would like to share a short series of articles highlighting our GNPI staff members who have learned the importance of cultural relevance by living in a different culture themselves. They have gained new perspectives which they apply to the ministry in practical and valuable ways.
Angie Anderson worked as Administrative Assistant for nearly three years. Before that she and her husband, Steve, served with Team Expansion as missionaries in China for four years. Angie recently stepped down from her role at GNPI. She and Steve and their son, Ian, are preparing to welcome a new baby to their family this summer. Angie’s careful work and organizational skill in the processes she set up will continue to be a blessing for us in the years to come.
By Angie Anderson
It’s difficult to understand how deeply culture penetrates our thinking until we are immersed in a new one. How we eat, what colors we wear, and how we receive and open gifts are all heavily influenced by the culture in which we grew up. I was reminded of this fact recently as I stood in front of co-workers and opened the generous gifts they had given in celebration of my son who is due to be born in August. During our four years living in China, we learned to never open a gift in front of the giver as it was considered rude. Needless to say, their birthday parties and baby showers don’t include a time of opening gifts like they do in the US!
We also found that many gifts were given with the expectation that the recipient would later reciprocate with a gift of equal or greater value. For that reason, a dear friend of ours nearly refused the relatively expensive birthday present a few close friends had gathered funds to purchase for her. Only after several conversations and much convincing did she finally agree to keep it!
Within that cultural context, God’s free gift of grace proved to be all the more unique and difficult to grasp. How amazing, indeed, that God freely gave the life of his own precious Son that his enemies might be adopted into his family as sons and daughters! We continue to pray more and more people in China would fully accept this extravagant gift that’s offered openly with no strings attached!