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."