The Need for Mutual Conversion
“Deje el mundo cambiarle y usted puede cambiar el mundo.” (Let the world change you, and you can change the world) -The Motorcycle Diaries
I heard this quote several years ago and have always loved it. I think why it resonates with me so much is because there is a sense of mutuality about it and that makes it different than the similar famous slogan we use so often in our ministry. Being on staff with Destino and viewing this quote through the lens of cross-cultural ministry, I see this perspective as very significant and valuable.
When Eric and I were first raising support to move to Central Asia, I would often tell people the statistics of how few believers there were in the country and how dark and opppressive things were there. Basically, I would say, “We need to go change this lost Central Asian country for Christ.” Now I’m not saying that wasn’t true, but in reflecting back I realize that there was far more God had purposed for me in that season of our life. I was profoundly changed by that time among that body of believers and in that country. It altered my view of God in beautiful and needed ways. I saw Christianity differently than I did before, and I am still so forever grateful for how the world changed me while we lived there.
As I’ve been processing this idea of mutuality in being transformed and changed in mission, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the word conversion through different things I’ve been reading. Carl Medearis, in his book Speaking of Jesus, tells a story about sharing the gospel with a person from the starting place of defining conversion. I also just read a great article by D.L.M., a missionary to Somali people, where she talks too about how while she is trying to convert Somalis to Christianity, she realizes that, in truth, we are all being converted all the time to different ways of living and believing. She ends the article talking about how she herself needs to continually experience greater and greater conversion to the way of Jesus, and in that she is also inviting others into the same conversion right alongside her.
As I think about Destino, the reality of where we are as a ministry and what opportunities are before us, I think this word may have a good home among us. For one, we are trying to convert lost Latino college students to Christ. We are longing to win, build, heal, and send Hispanic students to their communities and across the globe to change the world for Christ.
But what I’ve been processing lately is that while we as a community are striving for many of these conversions, there is another conversion that needs to be taking place among us that I think is happening and is significant for our future.
This conversion is related to the privilege that comes from crossing cultures. One of the beautiful pieces of cross-cultural ministry is that as you enter into the story of another group of people different than you, your opportunity for a grander vision of God increases. We believe in Destino that no one culture can fully embody the character of God so we all as different people groups carry in us a marred image of the Father. Because of this reality, we all are being converted to a greater understanding of who He is when we step out and seek to learn and know another culture. In the process of moving towards another ethnicity, we can experience healing in the areas of our own cultural brokeness, blindness, and ethnocentrism. This is a profound blessing and one that we shouldn’t quickly move past.
I’m beginning to see Destino as a place where, for this season in our history, people can come to experience mutual conversion. For many Latino college students that don’t have a relationship with God, we desire that they will be converted and drawn into the family of believers. And for many of our staff, as we live out our calling on multi-ethnic teams and as cross-cultural ministers, there is a conversion for us too that broadens our view of God as a result.
We’ve been talking lately at our church about how the story of God from the beginning was and always has been beautifully invitational. We are invited into the kingdom of God through belief in his Son which is transformational and powerful. What great news! I see this truth being lived out in our ministry.
But there is another invitation that I believe we are being offered as cross-cultural ministers in Destino and that is the invitation into the incarnational nature of Jesus. We have the opportunity to step into another’s shoes, see the world from their starting point, and learn to love them as we love ourselves. This is a powerful invitation too. Because, at the end of the day, all cultures are broken and none carry a perfect reflection of our Savior. But together, living out our true identities in Christ with different ethnicities and stories, there is greater beauty to be displayed of His face to the world around us.
So will you embrace with me this vision of the future of Destino? A future where we all, whether Caucasian or Latino, are moving towards conversion. Because it is true that the story of God is beautifully invitational. We all in Destino want to say yes to that invitation in every way.
picture courtesy: robynejay