This past week, I talked to some missionaries who had to leave the field (due to Coronavirus) and go back to their country of origin. This is how I would phrase how they feel:
After a long flight, in a non-commercial plane, we handed over our passports as we went through customs. The custom official said to us, “Welcome Home”! Those words did not seem exactly right or feel completely true. After having spent years overseas as missionaries, it had become our new home. Although it was sad to say goodbye there, we decided to embrace our country of origin once again. Despite our best intentions, reverse culture shock struck us in a big way. We had no idea how to re-enter and it left us feeling paralyzed. We had to refamiliarize ourselves with things that should typically be easy, like trying to order food or watching television. After three months of being back “home,” we made multiple adjustments and regained some skills. Still, we occasionally found ourselves facing difficulties and felt overwhelmed with continued culture shock.
Whether you have returned home or have been home all along, COVIDLAND is our new country and once again we must reorient. Actions that we once thought were normal now have different implications and results. For example, the way people greet each other now seems foreign. Air hugs, elbow bumps, curtsies……this all feels awkward. It does not feel normal.
No matter what country we call home, we as the church, can never stop being a student of the culture we are living in. We will need to adjust, and we will face difficulties. We may feel overwhelmed or paralyzed. We may even feel shock to our ever-changing cultures. Despite the continuous changes in culture and “home,” we Christ followers are not banned from loving our neighbor or sharing the gospel. During this unique time, we should not forget that God’s main directives never change. His provisions and guidance are always right and true. Decide to embrace Him once again and He will direct our paths.