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Doing Ministry Across Cultural Divisions

I have been blessed to travel the world to be exposed a week at a time to diverse people from across the planet. Gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, and distinct cultural backgrounds expose our vast differences. Although separated by cultural differences, we are equally drawn together by the traits of our human nature such as the need to be loved, love of our spouse, unconditional natural love for our children, the desire to protect and provide for our loved ones, the desire to succeed, the search for meaning in life, the need for understanding a power greater that ourselves. In the case of praying for the global Operations Leaders of Cru, we were strongly unified in the ties to Cru and our common love for and belief in Jesus Christ.

Coming home from such intercessory prayer trips each year was always a giant step from the world stage back to the small, everyday world of the Iowa Great Lakes. As the obvious cultural experience ended for each trip, and I returned to my life long home where we shared the American culture in a predominately white, middle class, single language, Christian society. Comparing my hometown to the people I had just spent a week with under one roof, we seemed very much alike. However, in my movement from near poverty to perhaps upper middle class status across my lifetime had revealed that people who shared our community also live in vastly different cultures. Also having the opportunity to be involved with those considered wealthy adds to the cultural dimension that we often are unaware of.

People from vastly different cultures around the world easily recognize their differences. If we fail to learn from each other and therefore seek those who are similar and more comfortable for us to associate with, the barriers grow and separate us from each other. At least international cultural differences are visible to all of us.

In our community, most people see us as being of one culture. However, we also divide into many cultures although much smaller and with cultural divides more easily crossed. The is a culture in the Lakes Area that Atlas is committed to serve. That is the culture of poverty. This culture is present in our community but is almost invisible to most community members. The people who work with government agencies, some ministries, and to a certain extent churches are exposed to those people that seek help from them. Maybe people such as landlords and some employers are perhaps also more aware that this culture exists in our midst but many of these people also do not know the extent and depth of that culture.

As Atlas of the Lakes Area seeks to identify, relate to, and provide assistance to people in this culture, we also seek to expose their existence to residents who pass them ,unrecognized, in fast food restaurants or convenience stores. A community can not help those in such a culture improve their lot in life until they know that such a culture exists. This is an ongoing process in working toward the expressed Atlas vision statement.

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