Friday, October 12, 2012

Windows on cross-cultural servanthood

I have the joy of announcing another new book. The complete title is Windows on cross-cultural servanthood: A tribute to Betty Sue Brewster, and the entire book is available online as the current issue of the journal, Global Missiology,Vol. 1, No 4. Edited by Jude Tiersma Watson and Georgia Grimes Shaw, this is a different kind of festshrift to honor Betty Sue Brewster upon her retirement from Fuller Theological Seminary. Like Betty Sue, it’s unconventional and practical, a narrative record of the experiences of fifteen women who have given their lives to cross-cultural ministry. I contributed one chapter, as well as the preface, which I will reproduce here:

Preface to Windows on cross-cultural servanthood: A tribute to Betty Sue Brewster
This is a green book.  We chopped down no trees in order to produce it. In fact, it’s not even a book, strictly speaking. In contrast to the traditional “festschrift,” the editors decided early on to publish these essays as part of an on-line journal, thus making them accessible worldwide. Generosity is a green virtue.
There is another reason why we call this collection of essays green. We offer it in honor of Betty Sue Brewster, whose maiden name just happens to be Green. In some way all the writers reflect the influence of Betty Sue’s life and contributions.
A deeper reason for calling this volume green runs beneath the surface, an underground stream feeding its roots. I’m reminded of a song Kermit the Frog used to sing: “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Our family sang along with Kermit, partly because of a metaphor circulating in the missionary community, a teaching tool to help missionary kids understand and accept the tensions of living cross-culturally. David and Kristin found insight and comfort knowing that they were a unique combination of the culture they grew up in and called home (Bolivia) and the culture their parents came from (the USA) and drug them back to periodically on those unnatural vacations known as “furloughs.” It’s like what happens when you combine the primary colors, yellow and blue. You end up with green. Our kids came out neither totally Bolivian (yellow) or totally of the USA (blue).  They’re green. And while it may not be easy being green, it’s good. All pilgrims are green.
The metaphor doesn’t apply just to children of missionaries. All people who work incarnationally in cross-cultural mission become changed.  Incarnational mission is a concept and practice that Betty Sue and her husband Tom pioneered, practiced and passed on to following generations.  It’s a concept that is fleshed out in the essays in this collection.  It reflects the lives of people who have integrated home culture with the cultures of the world as they seek to live out Kingdom values in mission practice.  It reflects people who have become green.
There is yet another link to the color green.  You’ll notice that all the authors are women. This is intentional. Betty Sue championed women as leaders in mission. Granted, she did this in her own quiet, gentle manner.  But gentleness does not equate weakness. In the case of Betty Sue (and the writers of this collection), gentleness expresses itself in strength, identification, relationship, creativity, narrative and the deep values of the Kingdom of God. Some would say that these feminine traits are more naturally green—conducive to walking gently over the earth—than are the aggressive masculine traits sometimes associated with mission. These stereotypes bear more than a grain of truth (but are probably not fair to men).
At any rate, this is a green “book,” full of stories written by women in mission, encouraging us to walk gently, thoughtfully and respectfully as we journey cross-culturally. And it aptly honors one who showed us how.

1 comment:

  1. In a time when "incarnational" ministry is being questioned as unrealistic and even presumptious or misleading when it refers to anything but Jesus' unique mission, Betty Sue (and Tom)have fleshed out lives of cross-cultural servanthood. I will move to the link!