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Section Two: Issues and Insights for Chinese Workers

In our zeal to obey the Great Commission, senders of cross-cultural workers have sincerely, although naively said, “The task is urgent. The time is short.  Let’s send the workers out as soon as we can.  Then the church will pray for them and all their challenges will vaporise into thin air.” Articles in this section aim to illustrate the damage such good but naïve intentions can cause in the lives and families of our beloved cross-cultural workers.  All these stories are real and not fictional.  They are stories of Chinese workers and their families, although names and places have been changed to protect confidentiality.

  • Case Study 1: Why Survive When We Can Thrive?
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    When churches send their own workers to other countries, they need to do so with longevity in mind.  In this story, a Chinese couple shares the dangers they faced on the field during their first term of service.  When they tried to communicate the extent of their emotional, physical, and spiritual trauma with the church, they met with further frustration. The church not only minimized their ordeal but also failed to provide loving care and support.  After repeated attempts to help the church understand their situation, this couple finally had to leave the field for both their own and their children's safety.

  • Case Study 2: Wounded Healers
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    Married couples in cross-cultural work need to have healthy marriages in order to work effectively in the ministry.  Every couple has areas where they need to grow, of course, and together there will be many ups and downs in their relationship, family, and ministry.  Intentionally working at good communication, having couple times together, and getting supportive input from books and friends are very important.  Even strong, healthy couples on the field – and anywhere of course – can go through significant struggles in their relationship.  But when couples arrive on the field with major unresolved areas, and significant secret struggles, the results can be catastrophic.  Workers are only as healthy as their secrets.

  • Case Study 3: Experiences and Lessons from 10 years in Missions
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    Even when workers serve in cultures that are similar to their home culture, the initial entry into the host culture posts many challenges. The attrition rate for first term workers on the field can be high, and has been the source of much study. In our third story, a Chinese couple lost one of their children during their first term on the field.  This event could potentially lead to attrition, returning home early.  With proper member care and strength from the Lord, the couple persevered and went to experience ten challenging yet wonderful years of fruitful service.

  • Case Study 4: Our Journey into Missions
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    Workers are being prepared long before they reach their field destinations, as this case aptly shows. Lessons in trusting God for finances, adjusting to and ministering in multi-cultural settings, international travel, formal Bible training, and doing manual labour can all be part of such preparation. The Asian-Chinese couple in this case eventually went to Africa, where a number of challenges awaited them in a tribal area. Language learning, culture shock, and “slow” progress in church planting during their first-term helped them to develop patience and trust in God. What this couple went trough has many similarities to what Mainlanders and other Chinese workers will face as they live and work cross-culturally.

  • Case Study 5: Interviews: Preparation and Field Realities
    Four interviews were conducted to look at how workers were screened and trained as well as their experiences with field problems and member care. The “interviewees” came from different parts of China and represented a sending church, a trainer, a “mission agency”, and missionaries themselves.  There are many common concerns and issues which warrant further study and discussion, including: homesickness, conflicts with colleagues, understanding individualistic mentalities from the West, and the need for greater cross-cultural understanding and experiences.