We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

We missionaries are notorious for trying to push square pegs through round holes.

We’re motivated by love. We feel led. Initially, it’s the only way we know.

Curiously, God is smack-dab in the middle; it’s his way of training us so He can effectively use us. Cross Culture 101.

This is how I know God has a sense of humor. If you’re a cross-culture worker, you can relate and even tell a story or two about a time God lovingly chuckled at your gaffes.

Like the following story, recently told by a missionary who had worked among the Maya in Mexico:

One Sunday, Rebekah and her husband were invited to preach in a church. When she asked to meet the pastor’s wife, she discovered that the wife hadn’t been to church in months.

So she walked through the village to the pastor’s hut for a visit, where she found the wife laying in her hammock, too sick and depressed to even get up and be hospitable.

A while later and about the time the pastor’s wife died, Rebekah’s compassionate vision was birthed: minister to these indian pastor’s wives by giving them a few stress-free, comfortable days filled with prayer and scriptural encouragement, a break from their grueling pre-modern way of life.

She prayed, asking God to supply the funds so she can put them up in an all-inclusive hotel on the beach. God provided, the word was passed, and the indigenous pastor’s wives came.

But they couldn’t relax.

“Where are the hammocks? We don’t know how to sleep in these beds; we’ve never slept in one before.”

“It is too cold in here.”

“We are only four women in this room with so much space! Can we call our husbands and families to join us?”

Are you picturing this? A square idea that didn’t quite fit in a round culture.

God smiled, Rebekah learned. Today she ministers to pastors wives throughout Mexico–with compassion and understanding.

There are numerous stories I could tell, but the point is this: every cross-cultural worker you know will run amuck in their passion to share God’s love.

We learn from our mistakes and try again. Then we finally get it right, and it’s time to pick up another piece. The cycle repeats, one peg at a time.

Then we die.

No, really, it takes a lifetime to learn…

…that we don’t know what we don’t know.

– I.K. Hadinger © 2011



6 thoughts on “We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

    1. Hellen, I’m sure you have a few stories to share, even though you went back to where you came from. I’m sure there were some things that had changed, eh? (you catch that Canadian lilt?)

      1. Oh for sure. I came from there as a child but none of it had really been part of my life since I was a teen…so…yes, it was a learning curve. And much as I thought that I wasn’t coming with preconceived notions of what I thought they should do…I did…and stood corrected.


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