Sunday, September 03, 2006

MK musing

I am a missionary-kid (MK). I am forever grateful to my parents for growing me up in India. Lots of reasons - but most important of all it helped me become an internationalist.

With my white face and blond hair being such a cultural oddity, I grew up affirming the languages and cultures of peoples who looked unlike me. Racism became repugnant. And a residue of this still remains... I don't really understand patriotism. Even that Kiwi penchant for Aussie-bashing (not to mention that Canterbury penchant for parochialism!) is a struggle. When God looks down from heaven he doesn't see national boundaries, so why should I?

With that weekly walk to church taking me within reach of every major world religion, I grew up taking other peoples' beliefs seriously - including my own. Pluralism became ubiquitous. And a residue of this still remains ... My beliefs always had other beliefs to push against. Today I don't understand why the unique Jesus who is Lord of all so easily becomes for us a clip-on Jesus who is Lord of little. Is he the way, the truth, the life - or isn't he?

With the faces of poverty interrupting the simplest of life's routines, I grew up being scarred by those images of the poorest of the poor. Consumerism became offensive. And a residue of this still remains ... I still find Christians in flash houses driving flash cars difficult to comprehend. It is an instinct. To this day I try to keep India's poor looking over my shoulder as I make financial decisions - but sometimes greed overpowers compassion in the battle for my heart. It is not easy, is it?

These tensions which India birthed in my soul are the upsides of becoming an internationalist. I remember John Stott calling all Christians to be 'committed internationalists'. Count me in! He is right - and the MK life gave me a head start for this.

But there are downsides as well...My first 35 years were lived as an alien. No stay lasted longer than five years - until my 36th year. Furthermore virtually every shift was continental. Making friends became easy. It was keeping friends that was hard. Belonging anywhere meant belonging nowhere. An insecurity became a constant companion.

But the flowers of the garden still help me. Some are perennials - like homemade Kiwis who grow a beauty in the same location. Others are annuals - like transient MKs whose beauty blooms in different places.

On balance I wouldn't trade-in the MK life for anything. I am one of the ones who feel blessed. There are many who do not feel this way. And as the globe shrinks and its peoples spill out across multiple borders I wonder if the MK will become a bit of a prototype for the future.

nice chatting

Paul Windsor

4 comments:

Andrew Butcher said...

Thanks Paul. I'm a M(G)K - a missionary grand-kid. My grandparents served for ten years in China - so while I've never lived abroad my life has been all the more enriched for having "the world" as part of my life. Chinese meals, Chinese friends, a missional outlook, and a firm belief that our Christian faith is for everyone without fear or favour, wherever they're from, and it is a faith also that must be applied with great integrity in whatever context we're in. As my grandfather loved to quote from Psalm 16: "the lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage"!

Alex H said...

Good call Paul. My wife grew up in PNG and I've spent time o/s as well. I think some kind of third culture exposure (esp. among the poor) is almost compulsory for Western Christians. It's almost impossible to understand how profound the gospel is if we don't understand the conext of faith in a predominantly poor, pluralistic world. Goodness knows how much I struggle, and I'm reasonably travelled! We're so self-sufficent and 'materialised' (I've coined a new meaning for an old word - don't know if it will stick!)

Paul Windsor said...

I am with you Alex - as mentioned in a recent posting, when that OE comes around I reckon a convincing case can be made for Christian young adults including visits to somewhere in the Africas, Asias, and Latin Americas of this world(with some meaningful service added in) - and not just the Europes and North Americas of this world (for some pretty meaningless tourism!?)

Nigel Foster said...

Well ,I must say that your parents did an EXCELLENT job raising all of you Windsors -- look at where you all are now !
( and I know who you all are )

Perhaps your family is the exception than the rule ?