WCIUjournal
Copy of CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION

Cross-Cultural Communication

What difficulties in communication do cross-cultural workers face? How can these best be addressed in various settings?

Reflection: What Is the Motivation of Your Ministry?

May Nor Clara Cheng has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. She is Associate Professor in Psychological Anthropology at William Carey International University. She served with OMF International for sixteen years in Japan, in the Philippines, and in Taiwan.  Her area of expertise is equipping cross-cultural workers in their inner-beings in order to lead a healthy emotional, social, and spiritual life and to be effective in their cross-cultural endeavors.

May Nor Clara Cheng has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. She is Associate Professor in Psychological Anthropology at William Carey International University. She served with OMF International for sixteen years in Japan, in the Philippines, and in Taiwan.

Her area of expertise is equipping cross-cultural workers in their inner-beings in order to lead a healthy emotional, social, and spiritual life and to be effective in their cross-cultural endeavors.

WCIU Journal: Cross-Cultural Communications Topic

July 4, 2015

by May Nor Clara Cheng

While I was on a trip, reporting to the supporting churches for my ministry at WCIU as well as meeting with individual supporters, I stayed at the home of a host family. I brought along the work I do for WCIU and worked on it when I was in the house. The father of the hosting couple, who was a new believer, saw me working all the time and asked, “Why do you work so hard when you are not even paid with a salary, but are living on donations? Why do you spend your life as a cross-cultural worker?” I answered simply but in a way that shocked myself.

“I work hard as a cross-cultural worker because I love God and I want to love people with his love.” What surprised me about this answer was that I did not try to tell this new believer that the world needs the Good News. I did not explain to him what is involved in cross-cultural ministry. I did not tell him that God has given me certain gifts as well as the chance of having a doctorate education so that I can contribute to WCIU as faculty. But in a split second, I explained the motivation behind my ministry is simply because of God’s love; this is an answer that I would not have always been inclined to say.

There is a long history of war between the nations of China and Japan. When I first arrived in Japan as a new cross-cultural worker, I thought that I had already gotten rid of the feud in my heart, as a Chinese woman, that came from knowing this history. But one day, as I was on a vacation, I was reading a traveling journal. I enjoyed the journal so much that as I lay in bed I was preoccupied with what I had read. Suddenly, a thought came to my mind: “What if this journal was about traveling in Japan? Would you still enjoy it as much as you do now?” I recognized that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, and I knew that my answer would be no.

I climbed out of the bed and knelt beside it. I stayed kneeling there for an hour, trying very hard to squeeze some love out of my heart for the nation I was serving. First Corinthians 13 came to my mind. I had thought that I was a cross-cultural worker through and through. After all, I lived among the Japanese and had learned their language. But in truth I had neither love nor hate for them: I was more like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal to the people I served. An hour later, a message came to my mind. “Now, you know that you cannot generate love by your own effort. But there is love on the Cross. And I will give it to you.” About a month later, I was riding on a subway train. My eyes wandered around, looking at other passengers. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit let me feel how heartbroken the Father was that these people did not know him. I felt it so strongly that tears ran down my cheeks like streams!

A few more months later, I joined a Chinese tour in Tokyo. The Chinese tourists were not used to the Japanese way of doing things and started to complain and scold the Japanese people frequently in Chinese. At first, I did not understand why I became jumpy the entire trip. Then, I realized that whenever the Japanese people got scolded, I thought that it was me who was getting scolded. Amazing work of the Holy Spirit! He put the love of God into my heart so much that I even subconsciously identified with the nation.

Years later, I was assigned to minister in the Philippines. The way matters were run in the society was so different from my background that I had a hard time adjusting to it. I spent most of my energy disciplining myself not to have negative reactions and be maladjusted to my hosting country. Then, one day I was in a worship service; somehow the Lord revealed to me again the lack of love in my heart for my host country. All that I saw was the difference of the society from my own background, and I was not happy about it. I wept again and confessed my weakness to the national Christian sitting next to me. And I humbled myself and asked him to pray for love for his nation for me. Today, even though it has been years since I left the Philippines, I still feel warmth in my heart when I meet a Filipino.

Later on, I was re-designated to minister in Taiwan. As soon as I arrived in the country, I was interviewed by a student in the school where I would be teaching. She asked me, “Why are you willing to come to Taiwan?” Before I could answer her, the Holy Spirit touched my heart so strongly that tears ran down my cheeks again. The Lord impressed in my spirit how many temples there are in Taiwan dedicated to numerous idols. And I was there to train pioneer workers in this spiritual dark place! Thank the Lord that he took the initiative to impart His love for this nation at the very beginning of my new assignment.

Today, as I serve at WCIU, I am not assigned a certain country to serve. My field is now global. But I am grateful that the Lord put me through the training of love through those three nations. He enlarged my heart. His love is imparted in me so much that in a split second, I was able to explain that love is the motivation of my ministry. I rejoice and praise the Lord for imparting the love of the cross to me!

“For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16a).

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. … If I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1, 3, ESV).