Living Behind the Veil

I'm often asked what I wear in Afghanistan and what it's like to wear a veil. It's freedom. Freedom to have a bad hair day, freedom to arrange my chadar to conceal the curve of my breasts and backside, freedom to not be an expatriate for a little while. It means freedom to hide even on the street from the Afghan men's eyes which seem to strip me naked.
When I relax my shoulders and walk less purposefully, less confidently, my eyes downcast and covered by sunglasses, I pass for an Afghan woman. I hear the men whisper in Dari, "Is she a foreigner or local woman?" I chuckle but am silent. On the street, I'm also a free target....freely exposed to groping, sexual innuendos whispered to me as a man bicycles by, free to have stones thrown at me, freely seen as no one's wife, daughter, sister, mother, friend, or boss. I step inside my gate, and remove my chapan and chadar. Now I'm someone's boss, motherhood returns to me as little steps run to greet me, and I receive a kiss from my adoring husband. Now I'm free to his loving and gentle eyes which know and enjoy my curves, free to once again be under the protective umbrella of being a wife, mother, friend, colleague, boss, niece, sister, daughter, woman.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Why Is It So Hard?


There are many factors to be aware of when shepherding global workers. Often, there is a culture gap between us and the person we are listening to - either they may be from a different passport country than us, and/or are working in a country we have little experience in.  

How do we listen well?

There are multiple "lenses" that impact us when we work cross-culturally long term, so we also listen with simple awareness of these lenses as we help discern where God is at work in and through the life of a global worker. All of these lenses impact our perception and interpretation of reality. 

 1. We always take a "suitcase" to another culture. 

The suitcase is filled with our unseen packing list - our passport culture, personal values, family patterns, Family-of-Origin issues, stereotypes we hold, and a lack of awareness of the supernatural, to name just a few of the items in the "suitcase." 

2. Workers often don't take one thing they should: A Theology of Failure

In Luke 10: 5-12, the workers sent out by Christ were told there were people and places that would receive them well, and others that would not. They were instructed what to do in both cases.

3. We also have to be aware of the 3-FOLD CULTURE CHALLENGE 

We cannot even tell the Good News correctly! The Gospel is mediated through a cultural grid – Bible culture, Host culture, My Culture. How indigenous believers interact with the text is different from how we might interact with the text. How might a lack of awareness in one of these areas be impacting the worker? 

4. A Theology of Suffering & Theology of Risk 

Quite often, workers have a theology of suffering that is helpful, but are troubled by issues they cannot put words too. Often this is related to the risks they've faced and an inadequately developed theology of risk.

5. Congruency and Legitimacy 

Another issue that often troubles global servants is how to have a legitimate reason to serve overseas in secure-sensitive countries, while being congruent in what they say to a variety of audiences.  How do we communicate and serve in a globalized, terrorized, digitized, pluralized world? This has to do with what we say about "Who am I?" and "Why Am I there?"

6. Hofstede's 6 Dimensions of National Culture 

Yet another issue workers haven't always thoroughly considered are these Dimensions of National Culture. These are helpful tools to understand why people act and respond the way they do. 

His cultural analysis tool is supremely helpful. 

7. Roland Muller's Honor and Shame grid.

There are three human responses to sin in Genesis 3: Fear, Guilt, and Shame.  How is the worker's culture and cross-cultural experience a window into those differences? 

8. Debriefing

We also keep in mind the 4 types of debriefing and what may be needed to help people process. (Administrative, Term, Spiritual, and Crisis debriefings). See this blog post.

9. Dr. Richard Slimbach's 3 Questions of Culture 

What would Jesus approve of, reprove of, and improve on? Often workers need coaching to help them see more clearly and discern the good and the evil within the culture. 

10. Three more areas: Marriage & Family, Work & Ministry, and Supporters & Sending Organization expectations & accountability.

All of these lenses are important areas of awareness. 

However, as we sit with a worker, aware of all these different lenses that may be impacting the situation, the Spirit is faithful to guide us and suggests the next question to ask or the way to reframe what we've heard in a helpful way to the worker.


1 comment:

  1. Merci beacoup! This is such a good synopsis of the complexities of cross-cultural work. Thank you!


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