Reviewed by Sandy Graham
Mission Round Table Vol. 17 No. 2 (May-Dec 2022): 44
This concise overview of the stages involved in a cross-cultural journey—from calling to leaving the field—partnered with the attributes of God is the perfect read for someone considering missions or someone at any point in the journey. Dr. Ed, as his students call him, is clearly qualified to speak to those embarking on a cross-cultural adventure. He and his wife Carol, along with their daughters, served in East Asia for twenty-three years. Currently, he is the Director of Intercultural Studies at Lancaster Bible College and spends his time investing in the lives of the next generation of cross-cultural workers.
In Christian circles, we are often told that before we can dowe need to be; however, the author wisely points out that before we can be, we need to know. By helping readers understand the attributes of God, the book leads us to discover more about God so that we can better reflect him to the world. Only then can we be all we are meant to be and dothe things he has called us to do.
The content is organized to take us through the journey of cross-cultural ministry. Each step is partnered with one of the relevant attributes of God and each chapter concludes with some practical and thought-provoking questions that can be used to more fully process each step. Scheuerman shows us how a better understanding of God will allow us to more effectively glorify God’s name among the people he has called us to serve.
The first three chapters focus on what happens before one goes to the field. The call to cross-cultural ministry comes in the context of God’s sovereignty and our need to surrender to him. The next step is preparation for cross-cultural ministry. After receiving a call, many determine to jump right in and go. Scheuerman, however, reminds us that God calls us first to a life of holiness not activity. Finally, as the author talks about living in two worlds, we are reminded of God’s omnipresence. When the time of preparation seems to drag on, it is good to remind ourselves that God is present in the here and now while we prepare and he will be there when we arrive on the field. What a comfort!
Part 2 focuses on departure and entry. As departure can be one of the toughest times in the journey of a cross-cultural worker, the author’s focus on the attribute of God’s faithfulness anchors us in the important truth that there is someone we can count on. In times of uncertainty, God’s faithfulness is sure. Upon entering a new country, many workers are faced with culture shock and stress. Yet, when we remember that God does not change—he is the same yesterday, today, and forever—we can embrace the things causing our stress and rest in our identity in Christ.
Another part of the journey requires us to adjust to a team—a team that may include people from yet another culture. This is where we need to focus on grace—both giving grace and receiving grace. The book asks, “How many times a day am I willing to die to myself?” and encourages us that at such times we should model God’s grace to others. Another adjustment will be to the host culture. This is where we need to remember God’s mercy. Thankfully, God doesn’t treat us the way we deserve, but rather extends his mercy to us. This, in turn, encourages us to show mercy and thus brings glory to God.
The next section focuses on field ministry, which involves connecting with people. God’s wisdom is the key attribute here—not just knowledge, but knowing what to do with the knowledge God gives us. Another aspect of field ministry is serving others. The author points out three practical attributes of God that are quite useful as we serve. These include love, justice, and mercy. He also touches on church planting, encouraging us to look to God’s power, and reflects on church multiplication, providing insight into the fact that God is infinite.
This guide would not be complete without a look at the aspects of returning from the field. Leaving the field can be traumatic and goodbyes can be painful. The author reminds us that we can lean on God and his goodness during times of transition. The final section includes thoughts on sabbath and debriefing, relating these to the attributes of God being eternal as well as omniscient.
No matter where you find yourself on the journey as a cross-cultural worker, the book will help and challenge you to seek God earnestly so that he can reveal himself to you and allow you, in turn, to reveal him to those who come across your path.
Knowing God to Make Him Known:
Living Out the Attributes of God Cross-Culturally
By Ed Scheuerman.
Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2021.
ISBN 978-1-6667-0021-3. 133pp.