When entering into a different culture whether on a missions project or simply just traveling, my favorite part of it is the everyday life. It’s the best way to learn about a society, and the best avenue to make an impact on it. I’m not a huge fan of programs or events, though they’re good and have their place. But for me, they’re just draining, and are more of a presentation than an interaction.
What do I enjoy? Learning to cook the local food. Learning my way through the streets. Going to local shops. Taking public transportation. Helping with the daily chores. Sitting down for hours and just talking.
For example, during my time in Kibera, a slum in Kenya, I spent several hours just sitting with some people and talking. Through that, I’ve learned so much about their world. The conversation is so much more real than if I held a formal Bible study. But more than that, I experience their world.
One of the main issues in Kibera is idleness. There’s a lack of jobs, and so people have nothing to do but sit around. From that, a lot of unhealthiness, social dysfunction and sin stem from it, such as alcoholism, crime, violence, etc. It’s one thing to hear that from them. It’s another thing to sit with them all afternoon with literally nothing to do, and to feel that boredom and frustration welling up inside me.
It’s also through the everyday routines that I feel like I have the most impact. I can get up in front of a congregation and give a great sermon. But I think in some cases, the Word of God has more impact when I am just sitting next to them, sipping a cup of tea, looking straight into their eyes, and sharing stories of how God is working in my life.
As I learned this on the mission field, I realized this is what should be doing at everywhere, both abroad and at home. Living life with people. Understanding the values they hold and the challenges they wrestle with. And being attentive to how God wants to present Himself into their story at that moment. Jesus did teach to the crowds. But He also spoke to individuals in the the midst of everyday life activities like drawing water out of a well, and used it as a platform to launch into a deeper spiritual conversation.
Again, programs and events are great. But I think sometimes we rely so much on them in an attempt to create opportunities for impact that already exist in the everyday life.
Oh, and I slaughtered a chicken. How’s that for everyday life?