• W. Austin Gardner

Culture Shock quotes


G. Collins identifies nine sources of stress, most of which are experienced during a missionary’s first term on the field:

1. Loneliness

2. Pressure of adjusting to a foreign culture

3. Constant demands on one’s time

4. Lack of adequate medical facilities

5. Overwhelming workload and difficult working conditions

6. Pressure to be a constant, positive witness to nationals

7. Confusion over one’s role within the local church

8. Frequent lack of privacy

9. Inability to get away for recreation and vacation

Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 31.



Frances White and Elaine Nesbit delineate four stages a person proceeds through after experiencing change, separation, or loss.

The first stage is denial. During this time the person makes a concerted effort to minimize the loss by writing often and promising to return home for important events. The missionary may even admire the scenery and people of the host culture, acting almost as though he or she were on vacation rather than adapting to a new residence.

The second stage is characterized by anger. This is expressed in impatience, gruffness, silence, or criticism, especially with friends and family.

The third stage of separation is sadness. This surfaces when a person recognizes the reality of the separation that has caused the loss. White refers to this stage as the affective phase, when depression and a sense of despair may be present. The individual may also feel anger and guilt because of the ambivalence that is part of any meaningful relationship.

The final stage is resolution. This involves accepting and adjusting to the new culture positively. The person accepts the loss, allowing integration of the new situation into his or her life, and begins to live in the present. Resolution permits the incorporation of parts of the former life into the new.

Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 32.



In extreme cases, the missionary may refuse to leave the house except for trips to church, the place of service, or the residence of a known acquaintance. Wives refuse to go shopping alone and to drive the car. Children are not allowed to play with the local children. All family activity is confined to the home; there is no interaction with the local people or culture.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 35.


The early experience of fascination for the culture is replaced by dissatisfaction with the inconveniences, which eventually ends in one of four responses:

1. total rejection of the new culture

2. total rejection of the old culture

3. grudging coexistence

4. healthy integration of the new with the old


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 39.


Competency in a foreign language is only one part of successful missionary service. Many missionaries have communicated adequately with poor language skills and have had long and rewarding times of service, often much loved by the people they have been working with because of their love and concern.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 45.


a shy, withdrawn person who prefers solitude may have difficulty using any language ability he or she might have. Extra emotional effort will be needed to make the necessary contacts to use his or her language skills. This type of person can be devastated by criticism or by making mistakes and may well stop language study if placed in highly competitive classroom situations. Not only the intellectual capacity but also the emotional effort needed to succeed may cause the candidate to withdraw from missionary service.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 47.


Kalervo Oberg, an anthropologist, was the first person to use the term “culture shock.” He names six aspects of this phenomenon:

1. Strain due to the effort required to make necessary psychological adaptations.

2. A sense of loss and feelings of deprivation in regard to friends, status, profession, and possessions.

3. Being rejected by and/or rejecting members of the new culture.

4. Confusion in role, role expectations, values, feelings, and self-identity.

5. Surprise, anxiety, even disgust and indignation, after becoming aware of cultural differences.

6. Feelings of impotence due to the inability to cope with the new environment.

Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 53–54.


Until new missionaries can accept the values and customs of the host country as being as valid as their own, it will be difficult for bonding to begin. Reed suggests that for true bonding to take place, a missionary needs to become a bicultural, as opposed to a monocultural, person. This happens when the missionary learns (1) to accept others as they are even though they may be vastly different from the missionary, and (2) to feel at home in two or more cultures without undue stress or anxiety.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 54–55.


Myron Loss indicates that cross-cultural stress is increased in proportion to the person’s involvement psychologically within the culture. It is more stressful to try to actively become a part of the host culture than to live in rather isolated American exclusivism. Although involvements, such as social relationships in ministry, business, recreation, and study, may at first be stressful, they are probably necessary for a missionary to reach his or her goals of cultural integration.

Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 56.


No amount of hardship or rejection made Paul abandon his ministry—which should be the same for the modern missionary, no matter what lifestyle he or she adopts.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 58.


The person who uses denial as a means of reducing pressure and anxiety does so by developing reactions that make his participation impossible. (1) He may point out all kinds of reasons why a proposed course of action will not work. He promotes as many doubts as possible concerning the wisdom of moving toward a certain objective. (2) He may develop a headache or some other ailment that prevents his entering the stressful situation. (3) He may escape into reality by claiming that some other activity, like working at the office, is so demanding that he has neither time nor energy for the anxiety-provoking activity. (4) Or he may simply decide to act as though the happening that demands action from him has not taken place.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 62.


Fred Renich suggests the following as reasonable goals for first-term missionaries:

1. A good foundation in the language.

2. Satisfactory adjustment to the climate, customs, culture and people on his field.

3. A thorough working knowledge of the mission.

4. An understanding of the field, its problems, demands, and potential.

5. Some awareness of his gifts and place in the work.

6. A deepening confirmation of his call as a result of a growing sense of belonging and a consciousness of being useful.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 69.


Myron Loss has suggested fifteen tips for survival, which may help alleviate much of the letdown experienced by first-term missionaries:

1. Set reasonable goals.

2. Don’t take your job description too seriously.

3. Be committed to joy.

4. Maintain good emotional health.

5. Remember that you are human.

6. Don’t be afraid of being a little bit eccentric.

7. Be flexible.

8. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

9. Reduce your stress where possible.

10. Make your cultural change gradual.

11. Forgive yourself: forgive others.

12. Establish some close friendships with people from the host culture.

13. Be thankful.

14. Be an encourager.

15. Take courage; someone understands.


Marge Jones and E. Grant Jones, Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, ed. Stanley M. Horton (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1995), 71.


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