Growing Up in a Cross-Cultural Family Helped My Ministry - Trans World Radio Canada

Journey to Hope

TWR Canada past-president Ray Alary blogged every Thursday, telling behind-the-scenes stories and ministry updates you won't find anywhere else.  You can still access his stories and read about his time as a missionary with TWR. 
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  • Mar7Thu

    Growing Up in a Cross-Cultural Family Helped My Ministry

    March 7, 2019 By TWR Canada President
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    Working cross-culturally is non-negotiable in ministry. The reality is that if you can’t work in that environment, your chances of success are limited. It’s a necessity in a ministry like TWR, which is cross-cultural in every way. Our foundation is built on it as our media footprint spans the globe, and most of the people we interface with daily are not Canadians or even North Americans. So what prepares you for this environment? What helps you to be successful in the cross-cultural world we live in today?

    My story of preparation started before I was born. My father was born in Saskatchewan and was French Canadian. He grew up speaking French in the home; in fact, he never spoke English until he was in his early teens and went away to school. My father was a minority and had to deal with all that encompassed as he grew up. Even though we grew up in British Colombia, my father kept that French heritage alive by speaking French wherever the possibility availed itself. 

    Growing up in my home was interesting! My father was a strong defender of the Francophones in Canada. My mother was British and came to Canada in 1948. She had been on her way to Australia, but she met my father in Vancouver. Six weeks later, they were married, and they were married for 48 years. My mother was as strong an advocate for the British as my father was about advocating for the French. While my father usually “won,” my mother did win on one issue: which language would be spoken in our home. My mother was not well educated and wanted our home to be a single language home, and that language would be English. Apparently after much debate, it was decided we would speak English, and only English, in our home.

    What is the point of me telling you about my family? The point is this: I believe God was preparing my way back then for a life of cross-cultural ministry. Did God know then that I would need the skill of working cross-culturally to be able to be successful in his plan for my life? I believe that he did and that my growing up years were all part of a lifelong plan God had for me. And I also believe there are some lessons I learned as a child that were important for living and working cross-culturally.

    Two people from two cultures can live, love and work together, but it takes conversation, compromise and a give-and-take attitude from both parties. 

    One culture is not better or worse than another culture. All cultures need to be respected. There are typically good reasons why people do what they do.

    Love is the foundation for making it all work. There were always different points of view in our home. It wasn’t limited to language or to where my mother and father were raised; it was also about things like the best hockey team in the world or politics. What made it work in our home was love.

    For 32 years I have been working cross-culturally. And I have not just worked in a two-culture family; the size of the TWR family has hundreds of cultures in it! I have thrived in this cultural diversity. In fact, it is a highlight of my career. Working with so many people with so many different backgrounds has brought great joy to my heart! What has been at the centre of all of this is a love that is far stronger than a love we can manage on our own. It’s the love of Christ and our love for Christ that allows us to work in the world we live in today. 

    To reach the world for Christ, we work cross-culturally. We cannot escape it. My home prepared me, and I am so thankful that my parents were from those two diverse backgrounds. It was that foundation that helped me adapt to the diversity of my life in ministry. 

    God knew I was going to serve internationally, and he set about uniquely preparing me from the day I was conceived. He knew I would need to be comfortable in whatever chair I was sitting in, in whatever country that chair was in.  

    God has a task for each of us. What is your story? God has uniquely prepared you to be able to serve him. What has he given you that you could use for his glory? Maybe it’s your education in a specific area. Maybe it’s the gift of hospitality. I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you this: he has uniquely prepared you for what he has called you to. 

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