Wednesday, July 19, 2006

OE Unease?

In twenty minutes a young friend of mine flies out of New Zealand for what we tend to call the 'great Kiwi OE' - the Overseas Experience. It is kinda like a Rite of Passage. It is a great idea. We kinda know that down here in the Antipodes we are far from much of the global action and we like to go and experience some of it for ourselves.

Two areas interest me...

(a) A friend of mine who has been a young adults pastor once alerted me to how often the OE experience is linked with a 'prodigal' experience of drifting away spiritually ... and then how often people returned to NZ in worse spiritual shape than when they left. How true is that? I'd be interested in reading about the experience of others.

(b) As someone whose entire childhood was an OE (as a missionary kid in India) it does alarm me how reluctant Christian young adults can be to experience a culture vastly different from their own - thereby missing the opportunity of the OE to engage more with the peoples of God's world. To go to an African country or an Asian one - to worship with God's people there - to experience a different array of human needs - to sense a joy and a hope we rarely experience ... it almost feels like for followers of Jesus this should be compulsory! How fair is that? Again I'd be interested in reading other peoples' experiences.

My friend is settling into his chair right now, I suspect. And the flight attendants are looking relieved to have those TV monitors, saving them doing the vertical pilates routine of yesteryear.

"Please Lord, bring him home one day spiritually-enriched and missionally-challenged."

nice chatting

Paul

7 comments:

Helen said...
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Helen said...
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Cam said...

Hey Paul

I have arrived safely in San Francisco and have already seen parts of the area around where my Uncle and Aunt live. Interestingly enough that you talked about spiritually drifting away while on OE I just had a conversation with my uncle (who isnt a christian) who when I asked him about churches in the area said to me that I should take a six month break to 'see how the other side live' to which my reply was something to the effect of: 'I like to think that no man is an island and I dont want to leave myself open to being isolated so I want to find a church'.

Keep up the good work Paul.

Yours in Christ,

Cam

bongo006 said...

I have just had two friends come back from their OE with mixed results. One has given up the idea of worshiping God altogether and the other has seen how God is at work in the rest of the world. Wass there a difference in attitude before they left?

karen said...

I wonder whether the sudden release from the 'expectations' of attending church and other activites has led to an exploration into new found 'freedom'. With the usual routines out the door and faced with the difficulty of having to find a new church, it is very easy to just let that slip by. I did a short 4 month OE where I didn't always get to church, but yet I will consider it a very spiritually enriching time as I met with God in many unexpected places (and also met up with other Chrisitans at various times).

So perhaps it is the attitude towards God and the priority of seeking out faith community that helps make it or break it.

Anonymous said...

hey Paul
you might recall the question I raised on this very issue last year when I asked if the OE is not in fact more about western self indulgence than 'experiencing' another culture...
I like your blog- thought provoking

Chris

Nigel Foster said...

I will always remember my first "Asian Experience OE "....
leaving the tourists , I decided to be a "white local" to see what the place was really like .
5 weeks of sensory overload , banging around Malaysia ,Borneo , Brunei brought plenty of issues as a christian for me to think about . It is probably the time where my faith was most stretched .
It was hard yakka , but I will certainly do it again given half the chance !
I can fully understand how some people can lose their faith and relationship with God , but despite being surrounded by Muslems , Hindus , Buddhists , NOISE ( plenty of that ! ) chaos , heat , thunderstorms and anything else that Asia throws at you , I came back unscathed from all the experiences