Cooking and Cross-cultural Campus Ministry

If there are two things I’m currently learning and re-learning right now- its cooking and campus ministry. I’ve always thought that because my mom has taught me to cook at the early age of 5 that I would never miss Filipino food because I know how to cook them, but going to another continent left me clueless as all the familiar things and ingredients I was used to being available is not easily found.

The same thing is to be said about doing cross-cultural campus ministry, you think you’ve trained and harnessed yourself in ministering to the youth of your nation and then all of a sudden God calls you to another continent, another culture, a totally different environment and now its step 1 all over again.Here’s some lesson’s I’ve learned 6 weeks in the beautiful nation of Kenya. May it be an encouragement to all cross-cultural campus missionary newbies:

Observe and enjoy the local food.                                                                Before I left the Philippines, I was talking with 2 veteran cross-cultural missionaries from Tibet and Nepal and I was asking them how do you learn the do’s and don’ts of nation as of course I don’t want to do anything offensive to the nation. They only have one answer: OBSERVE!!I found it so simplistic and yet one of the best advise I got.                                   So 6 weeks in here right now I’ve learned that as much as we love a daily dose of rice, Kenyans also has a regular pattern of eating and its generally meat and a variety of carbohydrates to go with it-ugali, chapatti, noodles, mash potato/unripe banana and yes occasionally rice.

On the other end, Kenya as I’ve observed is quite a religious nation (much like the Philippines), families value attending church together on a Sunday, most of the students I’ve met recalls being in kid’s church wether its Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian or Moslem. A lot of the students are often part of the church where their parents are in and they are not ashamed to say it. Taking note of this value and culture really helped us to focus the discipleship on asking questions on the depth of their relationship with God (vs teaching per se) and probing on their perspective on church and discipleship.

Stick to the basic food you’ve cooked hundred of times.                                So I found out I can only eat Kenyan food so many times, but my Asian palette would still come out. So I’ve tried cooking adobo- it was fine but the soy sauce here was different. The sopas really went well -its perfect for the weather here! Bistek also was well loved as beef here is super cheap and their staple meat. The not so successful ones are chopsuey-I guess its too oriental for their palate and beef caldereta- I couldn’t find the right tomato sauce here as I found out their catchup=tomato sauce.

Likewise going to the campus consistently, prayer walks, doing 121 and small groups is smoothly effective. There are a little bit of difference in how you approach it but applying the principles of discipleship truly works- no need to invent a new one just customize a bit so that it will be received better by the culture you are in. An example of this is how we package our small groups, in the Philippines we call it Victory groups, for here we are calling it “Discovery groups”, I thinks its quite a novel idea coming into a culture that is very much saturated with great bible scholars and teachers, it encourages our students to really encounter God personally thru His word, it gives them an avenue to speak up and say their thoughts about the passage and not just listen to an expert teacher.

Share recipes and learn the local cuisine.                                                        So far I really loved their nama-choma which is basically grilling of meats, (south Africans calls it braai)I enjoy it with kachumbari (salsa). I also enjoy chapatti (much like a burrito wrapper) with beef stew, as well as samosa (like empanada) with milk tea.

I have yet to attend a local church here but I would seriously love to, I hear some of the church around the neighborhood and them praying and worshipping for hours is really something I would love to be imparted on. One of the student is inviting me to attend a keziah- an overnight worship and prayer meeting-Im super curious, I’ll share with you once I got a chance to do it.

Some of the challenges they faced here as shared (which is much the same globally as well) to me by the locals are “missional” thinking- the urgency of evangelism and even the vision to disciple other nations; the heart of discipleship and Lordship- the knowledge of do’s and don’ts is very strong and evident, but the challenge of finding someone to walk you through the journey is much more real; a church that focuses on young people is also not common. I think any disciple of an Every Nation church would seriously see all these challenges as perfect opportunities and reason to plant churches here.

Barely short of 2 months and this nation has been such a great teacher to me, but the grace to learn and unlearn, the joy to persevere and trust, the commitment to grow and mature that I can only attribute to the best Teacher of all- Jesus!

Better Together: Sharing Testimonies and Covenant Friends

The first Wednesday of the month is something I always look forward to. Monthly we have our Every Nation Philippines Meeting and all our campus missionaries Metro Manila gets to reconnect and see each other -the classic extrovert me is just super happy to see so many people.

But these women are some of those on top of my list of people to spend time with, why? because we have been sharing lives the past few years and we have grown better  just from sharing our pain together, our laughters together, life’s challenges and also its victory. We intentionally built relationships with each other and today we get to enjoy its fruit thru teaching and coaching one another and simply being covenant friends.

Every meeting was unique , but if there’s always one thing consistent with our meeting we never go home without bringing a peace of each other ‘s victory and powerful testimonies. Today I got to hear these stories of personal and ministry answered prayers from these women of faith:

  • a dream condo that is rented out at a super cheap rate:                           Renting a cheap condo in Metro Manila at the place nearest your work is a piece of heaven on earth if you know how traffic is in Manila. Finding a cheap one is almost close to impossible, so to have a couple personally approach you and say: we meant to buy this house and rent it out for business, but God is challenging us to partner with you thru this and rent in out at the cheapest possible rate. Now that’s close to impossible and you know its only God’s hand and favor working and did I say its fully-furnished as well? Keep on believing God for your dream house at an impossible price.                                                                                                                                                          
  • the joy of biking and moving on                                                                         A lot of students think that their campus missionaries are like super men and women, how we wish we really are like that and that we don’t get hurt, stumble or fall. But the reality of life is real and challenges are a constant reminder of how much we all live under the grace of God’s goodness. I love the fact that no matter how personal our story sometimes gets these women are never lacking in humility to share their vulnerabilities, to share their stories, to ask for prayers and to enjoy the comfort of spiritual family and love the freedom accountability brings.                                                                                   
  • the power of being a blessing to an establishment                                      With all the counselling and one on one discipleships we get to do every day, we cant help but sometimes really based our “office” on a fast food chain nearest the campus we are ministering to. But this campus minister took it to the next level when she started praying for that establishment, believing God that she’ll get to share our vision of reaching students to the owner. Lo and behold, she got to do that and beyond, she got so much favor that they are willing to rent out their function room for free so that a discipleship group could meet their once a week and pray for the campus nearby. Truly we serve a good of unending faithfulness and surprises, don’t be afraid to believe for the impossible.                                                                                          
  • the joy of celebrating new seasons and existing ones                            Whether you are currently super challenged in your transition or enjoying a new season, nothing beats celebrating and sharing its joy and pain to a  group of covenant friends-someone who have seen how you started, people that walk with you in this journey, the same people who’ll be celebrating with you or comforting you in succeeding and trying.                                                                                                                                             I guess this is one of most important aspect of this constantly meeting together, we learn about commitment to a person’s growth, we challenge each other to believe for greater things, we celebrate the diversity of each one’s strength and wintogether as they fulfil their calling. We open our lives to previous “strangers”, we intentionally build trust and ended up being friends. We share endless stories of God’s faithfulness and endless lessons from His word and are in a constant cycle of discipling others and discipling one another- Indeed we are better together.