Partnership for my wife, Glenda, and me means working under the umbrella of the Whitened Fields Association in Argentina, although we continue to be missionaries with World Gospel Mission. Whitened Fields exists to provide training to Latin Americans who have a call to ministry and missions. Several different ministries are under their covering. We serve with one of the ministries called the Center for Cross-cultural Missionary Training. Our fellow team members are from Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Students come from all over Latin America. We serve side by side with our team members, living on the campus and interacting daily with the students during their three-month training sessions. Although all communication takes place in Spanish, as an international, intercultural team, we have to work hard to apply cross-cultural principles and practices to our own team dynamics as well as teach them to the students. Most of the students will be serving on intercultural teams, so this is a good opportunity for us as a team to model the process for the students.
Culture is a foundational part of who we are as people. We learn what is considered to be the right way, or wrong way, to do things according to what we are taught by those around us. As people from different backgrounds join together in a team, their understanding of how things should be done often conflicts with those from other backgrounds. Issues we face in partnerships and intercultural teams include things such as, What kind of leadership style is to be used? How are decisions made? How is work divided up? How are meetings organized? How are conflicts resolved? How does planning take place? How are resources handled? If the leader or one group of the team tries to impose their cultural preferences, team relationships suffer. Therefore, it is important for the group to go back to the basics, to understand the image of God and His principles for how we as His children, created in His image, are to work together.
When this is figured out, it is extremely rewarding to work together on a team with those of other cultures who bring fresh perspectives, new ideas, and rewarding relationships.
ACT: Take this challenge from the Partner chapter of the World GO! Manual: Join a community-wide, faith-based outreach project that includes more than just your local church. Join a group that is addressing the particular needs of your community that God has given you a burden for.