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The Languages of Culture | Time

March 10, 2022

Jacob is a missionary serving with his wife in Spain. The specific culture in Spain in which they serve is not presented in order to protect the privacy of the people they serve.

Listen to Jacob's story and learn how the timing of the daily lives of his new neighbors influenced his ability to understand the people of Spain.

We were in South America working and we were working in a very established ministry that we enjoyed. We were working with leadership and often we were trying to make relationships with the people that lived nearby. We realized that we were very limited. We weren’t sure why we didn’t have as much success in making good relationships around us.

It wasn’t until we did CultureBound training that it became more apparent that we had really separated ourselves from the people even though we lived right on the same block as them. We didn’t realize how separate our lives actually were.

After training, we went over to Spain. When we arrived, we thought about what we learned and started to see moments of opportunity. We had the same timing with parents going to school to drop their kids off or to pick them up. We started making friends just on the basis that we had the same patterns and routines. They became used to seeing us. This worked in our favor because although we looked different than other people, we actually did the same things they did.

One day, we were coming down the hill from the elementary school and we saw a small institute where languages were being taught for the local village kids. We got to know the owner of that institute and they really took to our family. Our kids went to school together. Over that year, we noticed that we were becoming closer to this family. Even after we moved out of that part of Spain and went to another, we still stayed in touch with the family.

I think the most amazing part is that there was a caring relationship that started with this family that continued. Even though we moved to another part of Spain, they actually visited us and we went back and visited them. Over these last eight years, they’ve even come over to the U.S. to visit us while we’re on home assignment. They took a time out of their vacation just to say, “Hey we’re in the area, do you mind if we stop by?” It has reminded me that the best thing we learned through CultureBound is the importance of synchronizing our lives with the local people.

By living exactly where they live, walking to school like they do, and having our kids in the same school as their children, we were accepted into the village naturally. We made ourselves available and we spent time with them.

When they last visited, they were still looking for a difference. Why are we so different than them? It’s not the cultural difference, but the peace that we have because of the hope we have in Jesus. Each time that they’ve visited us or we’ve visited them, we’ve had an opportunity to share our faith in a way that makes sense.

On our most recent visit, I was able to share the freedom that grace gives. They looked at the U.S. and they said, “This is such an amazing place. This is such a beautiful area of the world. We had no idea. We believed the news media saying that it was violent and difficult and militarized, but people in America are lovely people. They are so friendly!” We were able to talk to them about Christianity and how we tried to take that love of the people of America to their country. It’s really been an amazing relationship developed with this one particular family.

"He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ." Ephesians 1:9–10 NIV


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