W. Austin Gardner
What to accomplish in the first two years 3
1. The example of Hudson Taylor. When we think of identification, images of Hudson Taylor in native Chinese dress and a braided pigtail come to mind. Heart-to-heart identification, however, is much more than adopting dress and customs. It is the result of a sequence of actions based on attitudes. Entering a culture with an open, trusting, and accepting outlook is the first step.
2. The goal of identification is to be an effective communicator. The reason that you want to identify yourself with your people is to understand them. You want to know how they live, how they see things. What goes on in their house. What fears they have. If you live with them enough to understand them, you will be able to preach to them. Your messages will ring true. Honestly, many times, a tremendous message in America will fall flat on its face overseas. Your people are the same, but they are different. It would be best if you got inside their heads, hearts, and families by going to their funerals, weddings, and playing their sports with them, etc.
3. Bonding or Belonging. These two words talk about a further step in our becoming a part of their society. You want to bond with them as you did with your own family. You want to belong. You do not want to be a stranger, a pilgrim. It is challenging to be like them. You speak a different language. You are a different color, a different size; you have a different past, a different level of living. You must work at being one of them.
Bonding is the development of a close relationship between family members or friends.
Belonging is having a close relationship; familiarity; camaraderie [a feeling of belonging
4. Plunge right in! Your first few days among the target people can determine the course of your ministry for years to come. The way you spend your first couple of weeks in your new country is critical (if you are to establish a sense of belonging with the local people). Better to plunge right in and experience life from the insider’s perspective. Live with the people, worship with them, go shopping with them, and use their public transportation. From the very first day, it is essential to develop many meaningful relationships with local people.
5. The newcomer should communicate early his needs and desire to be a learner. People help people who are in need. Then when potentially stressful situations come up, he can, as a learner, secure help, answers, or insight from these insiders. Getting outsiders to answer insider questions will only alienate you from the people. The individual who hopes to enter another culture gradually will probably fail to do so. He may never enjoy the experience of belonging to the people or having them care for him.