When American couple Terry and Amy came on our podcast with Isaac, a leader in the church in Ghana, we took the opportunity to ask what they learned in working cross-culturally for 15 years. Their responses apply wherever believers from different backgrounds work together to advance God’s Kingdom.
- Trust local believers.
A critical aspect of a successful cross-cultural partnership involves “trusting [local believers] with resources, trusting them with the work, and giving them more and more authority and ownership,” says Amy. “What we catalyzed in Ghana is in the hands of Isaac and the leaders there, and they are better equipped.” She’s not suggesting that such trust is easy—“it requires patience and setting aside your ideas of how things should go”—but it’s all worthwhile to empower others to lead.
- Value cultural experience.
International workers must trust local believers to take the lead “because it’s their context, it’s their culture . . . an American or somebody from the outside will have a very hard time figuring it out, because they’re not from that culture,” Terry explains. Lifelong cultural experience can’t be overlooked.
- Pray for somebody to serve.
Cross-cultural miscommunications are tricky between wildly different groups and within regions. Isaac reminds us, “we are all Africans, but the context will vary from one country to the other.” He adds that “As we are entering a culture, we know that God has somebody there to pour myself into and then take a back position. The person will be in front, and I serve the person to better serve his people, because he understands the culture better than me coming from outside. . . . We don’t need to hold onto the plow for a long time.” We only need to pray for God’s provision of faithful, local leaders, and serve them as best as we can.
Hear more insight from Zúme community members all over the globe at our Multiplying Disciples Podcast.
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