I first met Any McCullough at an international church in Central Asia. He was on an short trip preparing to move to our city and we had the privilege of taking them out to eat that day. As a language coach and a friend, I got to have a bit of a front row seat to the settling of his family and team into the cross cultural context of ministry. What I observed impressed me in so many ways and so when I saw he had written a book on how we should enter into new cultures, I was excited.
Global Humility: Attitudes for Mission is powerful, insightful and a must read for anyone interested in cross-cultural ministry. Broken into six different sections, Andy explores all facets of cross cultural work through the lens of what he believes is the most important aspect of this work: humility. Filled with first hand experience, personal stories, Biblical insight and sharp observation, Global Humility is a must read for anyone interested in learning from the global church and in moving cross-culturally as an ambassador of Christ. We will certainly be incorporating some of the lessons into the Becoming a Cross Cultural Ambassodor session of E2E.
In Andy’s own words, he hopes that this book will stimulate, provoke and challenge you and cause you to pray more, cause you to think about the world in a humbler way with a broader perspective.
Global Humility does just that.
Andy writes in an easy to read way that is engaging and insightful. There are so many nuggets of wisdom in this book and so here are some those nuggets that I found as I read: one from each chapter. I hope this will give you a taste of what the book is all about and motivate you to order your own today.
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Section 1 - Moral Humility: Thinking About Sin
Chapter 1 - Tamar: Voice from the Margins
One of the great sins of those who cross cultures, particularly those who travel from the powerful to the powerless, is the sin of judging. The centre judges the margins. The strong judge the weak. The missionary judges the heathen. The Christian judges the non-Christian.
Chapter 2 - The Sins of Jonah
Humility is reading scripture and identifying with its weak characters. If Jonah had such gaping flaws, the chances are we do too. Jonah does not have much to teach us about strategy, but a whole load to teach us about our hearts.
Chapter 3 - The Men from James
The word of the gospel is able to keep and build the believers. All of the tree is in the seed. Everything is an enormous mature tree was originally in the seed; all the DNA necessary. A seed needs planting and watering and needs space clearing out for it to grow (James 1:21), but does not need adding to. So with the gospel of the grace of God in Christ!
Chapter 4 - Softening Your Certainty
Our greatest theologians have only read the first line of the first page of an infinite library which is the knowledge of God. May our speech, our self-perception and our approach to God and others be softer!
Chapter 5 - Humanity as Victim
We must not forget that Sin as Tyrant is as big a theme in the biblical witness as Sin as Choice. The latter is still true, and the Christian formulation of sin includes both, but one of the things that makes Christianity unique as a world religion is the picture of sin as a power oppressing humankind and hence, necessitating a Savior. Islam, for instance, would teach Sin as Choice but not Sin as Tyrant. We, however, have a Savior who came not to judge but to save the world! If we can see people in this way, then instead of blaming we will serve and instead of judging we will empathise.
Section 2 - Public Humility: Thinking About the World
Chapter 6 - Whose Story?
The geographical heartlands of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam are still where they have always been, and the faithful go their on pilgrimage. Not so with Christianity.
Chapter 7 - On Memory
When introducing yourself to someone from a high-context culture, they don’t just want to know who you are as an individual, but who your father and grandfather were, where your people come from originally, where your village is. Third generation urban migrants still talk about their village, even if they have never been there. One of the major differences between identity in the East and the West is the role of memory.
Section 3 - Semantic Humility: Thinking About Language
Chapter 8 - Nimrod Versus Abram
That is why Christian mission must be dominated by an Abrahamic ‘go’ rather than a Nimrodian ‘come’. In multicultural cities and towns of Europe the same dynamic is true. There are many in your town who can never come to your church, the geographic, linguistic, cultural barriers are too many. You may think your church is accessible because it has a good website and a wheelchair ramp, but what about emotional and cultural accessibility? Instead, you must go to them!
Chapter 9 - Heart Language
In any cross-cultural relationship, language is an invisible power differential. If our whole desire is to see local responsibility, local leadership, local ownership in the Church, one of the most decisive ways to achieve this is local language.
Chapter 10 - Translatability
One of the most important things about Christianity is its translatability. I can talk to God in my own heart language. God can speak to me (through the scriptures) in my own mother tongue. I don’t have to learn a sacred language - the gospel invades my language and renders it sacred!
Section 4 - Intercultural Humility: Thinking About Differences
Chapter 11 - Whose Reason?
Have you ever noticed that in the Old Testament there are very few ‘photographic’ descriptions of appearance, whether of people or of buildings? But there is an obsession with the process of building. This because in the East, verbs are more important than nouns. For the biblical writers, describing what the temple looked like was not as important as describing how it was made.
Chapter 12 - I Am Because We Are
We have learned that when Westerners talk about church as ‘family’ they mean something very different to what Easterners expect. If you are going to use that word, are you prepared to live up to the implications? Family pool financial resources to send a nephew to university, or to buy a married couple a house. Family find jobs for each other. Family is invasive, comments on everything, admits no no-go areas.
Chapter 13 - Honour Motivation
There is a Turkish proverb, ‘A stone is weighty in its place.’ Where you are from, where you are known, you have weight.
Chapter 14 - Multisense
… if we discount all form and ritual, then we are making informality a gospel essential, when it is only a cultural preference. We must learn to contextualize to high-context cultures!
Section 5 - Incarnational Humility: Thinking About Leadership
Chapter 15 - Contextualize Yourself!
Although it is rare for cross-cultural workers to genuinely ‘become’ local, the effort that you make to expose yourself to the same lifestyle as those you are seeking to reach - your schooling options, accomodation, work hours, food - will go a long way to communicating the compassion of Christ who lived among Jewish men as a Jewish man.
Chapter 16 - Sent Like Jesus
We are servants of the Sent One! Jesus’ incarnation is the model for our incarnation. His vulnerability is the template for our vulnerability. His humility, the prototype for our humility. His pain, the pattern for our pain.
Chapter 17 - Scaffolding
Reaching the unreached requires collaboration between different apostolic spheres, open-handedness and a non-possessive approach.
Chapter 18 - Leadership is Not Like Riding a Bicycle
The science of leadership is one of the most prevalent forms of neo-colonialism around in the Church today.
Section 6 - Theological Humility: Thinking About Thinking
Chapter 19 - Narrative
The goal of missions is indigenous expression of ancient truth. The danger for missionaries is bringing the gospel plus something additional.
Chapter 20 - Parable
Jesus was unafraid to say ‘the kingdom of heaven is like . . .’ In fact, he knew that the only way our tiny human brains could conceive of the divine was through the medium of comparison to the material, everyday world.
Chapter 21 - Theology as a Verb
Theology should be taught as a verb and not as a noun. To theolog-ise. Especially cross-culturally. We must teach people how to think, not what to think.
Chapter 22 - De-Westernising Your Eschatology
Eurocentrism is rarely more evident in Bible interpretation than in the history of the interpretation of Revelation.
Chapter 23 - Apostolic Plurality
If an Indian reads a verse one way, and an Inuit reads it another way, because of cultural lenses affecting their reading, who is right? Who is wrong? And how can these be reconciled? How different should a Middle Eastern theology be from a North American theology? I know this is a mind boggling question, but we have to have the courage to ask it.
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Take a moment to watch Andy talk about his book below.
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