© Cultural Engagement

We as Christians have been called to the Great Commission as described by Jesus Christ in the New Testament book of Matthew 28:16-20, where we are called to share the gospel with the nations. This is the initial command into cultural engagement within our communities and the farthest ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cultural engagement means to engage with ones culture in a way that establishes the word of God through a reflection of love, but also to stand humbly against anything deemed as sinful as defined by the Word of God (Acts 17:16-34).

Being able to engage with the cultures around us in a Christ-like manner is vital as a Christian because it is our command from the Lord and should be the purpose of our kingdom living. We have been called to serve and so we must be ready and willing to do so everywhere and with everyone. God has placed women and children in the deepest recesses of my heart, therefore it is my goal to engage with families, with or without fathers, as they are the center of community and culture. Therefore, cultural engagement is important to me because there are far too many lost woman and children in today’s society who are in need of spiritual guidance and direction. We need to engage with the lost in all cultures in order to teach them how to break the chains of oppression in their lives and breaks the cycle of generational curses.

I have spent a good portion of the last decade working with individuals and families in need. I was a Program Coordinator and Grant Writer for a not-for-profit agency, and was also an Outreach Liaison for the outreach program with another not-for-profit organization. As the Program Coordinator I was responsible for the co-creation of various outreach programs, educational incentive programs, and programs which encourage family unity. As the Grant Writer I was responsible for creating the grant proposals for grassroots and program support funding.  This position not only required interaction with outreach agencies and key businesses to build relationships and support, but it also required extensive engagement with the individuals and families who were in need of assistance.

As the Outreach Liaison with a not-for-profit who’s roots were established with a local church, I assisted low-income and homeless persons to connect with agencies that provide the specific services to fit their needs, such as emergency food assistance, financial and housing assistance, educational programs and resources for school aged children, as well as spiritual counseling for women with children. Currently, I am an advocate for children and families, therefore I support causes that are geared toward eliminating child abuse, preventing domestic violence, resolving homelessness, as well as self-sufficiency services.

The experience in the first not-for-profit could have been improved to be more effective in meeting the needs of the people if all involved staff and volunteers had taken their responsibilities more seriously, and if upper management had provided better basic training for everyone. Unfortunately, some of the executive staff members took advantage of my professional work ethic by becoming overly dependent on me to cover where they chose to slack, which destroyed the quality of performance and caused unnecessary burdens on the entire team.

However, on a positive note during my second experience, although there were some issues initially starting out as a new agency, the staff was very involved and went above and beyond their required tasks in order to continue to assist those in need to the best of their abilities. This fostered unity among those who were determined to assist the community. It also eventually served as an encouragement to others by allowing them to witness our example and use it as a means to increase their enthusiasm and boost their productivity. Needless to say, the more motivated organization continued in their growth.
Personally, the most meaningful aspect of the experiences I have had within the community is seeing the individuals, children and families overcome the obstacles they once faced; to see them find housing, employment, provide for their children, seek a higher education, receive healthcare services, and educational tutoring, to name a few things. But most of all, the greatest part was watching them grow spiritually, where they once entered full of sorrow, and by the end of the program they were full of the joy, light and freedom of the Lord!

The most difficult aspect of my community experiences has been watching people have no hope or trust that things can and will get better. There are just some people who do not grasp the power of the Lord as quickly as we would like to see them accept it; those are the ones that hurt the most. Those whose eyes and ears and hearts stay shut because they are still lost and confused or refuse to accept anything outside of themselves. Some of them search for assistance in hopes of receiving a quick fix, a bandage, without truly realizing that God is our provider and miracle maker, and He is the joy that comes in the morning.

My personality style according to the MBTI test results has actually been very visible throughout these experiences. The results showed that I am an introvert and I do recall many times standing at the outside of an event observing everything that was going on around me. I watched how the people interacted or avoided other patrons and sometimes the staff and volunteers as well. I watched how some groups worked together well, but others not so smoothly. I jumped in when I knew I needed to take a stand, but withdrew when I saw no other purpose for myself outside of observation or data collection.

Nonetheless, I maintained my friendly nature with the clients and was considerate and sensitive to the needs of others. I assisted in maintaining order and was very thorough on compiling survey data from the clients, but also with the staff for quality of care for management purposes. I remained a loyal partner to the organization while working with other agencies. I was dependable when needed on a moment’s noticed, and responsible within every aspect of my duties. My commitment and interest remained strong. While I paid attention to what was happening before my eyes, I was also able to look deeper into any situation directly within or outside of the organization. These abilities promoted individual and organizational growth.

My spiritual gifts and calling were expressed during my cultural engagement experience because I realized that there were others that did not have the ability to complete the tasks that were required as thoroughly as I had been able to do, but neither was I able to do a particular task as well as someone else had. This was a reminder that we are each given our own gifts in order to work together as the hands and feet of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians).

My involvement with the local community and its culture challenged and validated my Christian worldview, but did not necessarily change it. The challenging part was realizing that not all Christians share the same perspectives and beliefs, and so the same careful balance that we use with the world had to be used with Christian agency partners as well. I think initially it was almost surprising to me, but it also helped me to realize that we are all at different maturity levels as Christians and so we must have the same grace with others that the Lord extends to us.

In conclusion, it’s imperative that we as Christians remain steadfast in our calling, using wisdom and humility to engage culturally whether within our local communities or in foreign lands. My experiences have helped shape who I am today and in preparation for where the Lord is leading me. I believe God is teaching me how to relate to people of various types of backgrounds and cultures in order to prepare me for ministry work abroad. These experiences have shown me how truly unique we are created, with the purpose of serving others within His Kingdom and as we serve our Lord joyfully, for He is our true reward.

1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

Acts 1:8 NIV
“8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Matthew 28:16-20 NIV
“16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”



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