Culture Shock – It Is The Little Things

power linesCulture shock is the anxiety felt when one must function inside a culture that is different then their own. This can result in a dislike of certain aspects of the new culture. If you are looking for a less textbook definition – culture shock are those things that illicit the response of, “that’s weird.”

horse and carsCulture shock is not a onetime thing that you get over. The more time you spend in a new culture the more it weighs on you. It is as if every time you are shocked or surprised by something a pebble is added into your backpack.

Culture shock is not the big things…like language, food or driving…those are expected. It is the hundreds or thousands of things that you see every day, seven days a dog in the trunkweek. And, each time you are aware of a cultural difference it is a subtle reminder that YOU are the one that is different in the new culture, not them.

Over time, mix in a little doubt or sin, and you begin to wonder if you will ever “fit in.” The simple answer is NO, you will NEVER fit in, not completely. In fact if you spend enough time assimilating to your new culture you will no longer fit in to your old culture. This battle with culture is a minute-by-minute reminder that it will never be easy.

But, here is the thing; the sooner you realize you will never fully fit in the better off you are. For us that has been a difficult realization. However, it has helped with a major spiritual lesson. We are not meant to fit in here in Honduras, nor back in the U.S. The Bible tells us in 1Peter 2:11 that we are all aliens and strangers in this world. We do not belong here. Christians are all cross-cultural missionaries in a world that we are not part of.

The constant reminder that we do not fit in to the culture in Honduras is a constant reminder that we shouldn’t. All Christians should stand apart from the culture of this world and not strive to fit in.

About Mike

Mike, 49, grew up in California and spent 38 years of his life there. He received an undergraduate degree in Political Science, graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and is pursuing a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. Before accepting God’s call to fulltime missions, Mike worked in the California State Senate for 12 years. He became a Christian at the age of 20. Mike was a Ruling Elder at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church(PCA) for seven years. While at Soaring Oaks, Mike served as the Director of the High School Youth Group, Sunday school teacher, and instructor of evangelism. His cross-cultural missions experience includes five short term trips to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Peru (Lima and Cusco) through Mission to the World (MTW). He has volunteered with World Relief by teaching and counseling international refugees. Mike has also attended cross-cultural church planting conferences in New York and Orlando and completed the Perspectives course on the World Christian Movement. He attended Bible Study Fellowship for two years. He is a certified instructor through Evangelism Explosion and is a certified trainer of the Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention program. He completed MTW‘s Disaster Response Training. Mike is an experienced speaker and author. Over 70 of Mike's articles on missions have been published and he has written three books. He is a trained and experienced mentor, discipler, leader and a passionate teacher of small groups and Bible studies. Mike received an undergraduate degree in Political Science, graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. Before accepting God’s call to fulltime missions, Mike was a Ruling Elder, Youth Group Leader, adult Sunday school teacher and evangelism instructor at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church in Elk Grove, CA. Mike is an experienced speaker and author. Over 70 of Mike's articles on missions have been published and he has written three books. He is a trained and experienced mentor, discipler, leader and a passionate teacher of small groups and Bible studies. From 2007 to 2017 Mike served as a fulltime missionary for MTW. Mike served as Team Leader, Church Planter, and Seminary Professor. Mike and his wife Erin served in Honduras in Central America and Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa. Mike currently serves as the Director of the MTW West Coast Hub where he trains and mentors new missionaries from CA, AZ, & NV. Mike is also busy writing his next book.

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