What do you see in this picture? What does it look like to you? It’s the housing of professors at a prestigious university in a West African city where I trained some colleagues last week on how to do PGA (survey work).
When I first saw this housing, I was using my eyes from My Country, and it looked amazingly extravagant. Look at those huge houses and all that grass, and the fact that it’s by water, and how far away the houses are from their neighbors!
But then I quickly changed my mentality and tried to look at it with my “American” eyes. I immediately saw something different. It looked a lot like the training center where I got my missionary training in Missouri! It also reminds me of the lakes, nice lawns, and big houses on the lakes near my house in Wisconsin.
It was surprising even to me to see how this same scene looked totally different to me, all within a minute or two, because I looked at it with two different sets of “eyes.” I’ve heard it said that kids who wear glasses are teased by being called “4 eyes.” Whether or not that’s true, I think that cross-cultural missionaries should be glad if we can see the world through 2 different sets of eyes – those of where we grew up and those of where we’re currently serving. I actually hope that soon I’ll be able to be called “6 eyes,” since the culture in My Village is very different than the culture in the city, and looking at the world the way the village people see it will require even a different set of eyes than my “city” eyes that I’ve acquired these last 4 years.
No matter how many different sets of eyes you have to see the world through, as a Christian it’s important to remember that they each need a set of contact lenses to see the world not exactly as those around us see it, but as Jesus would see it if He was living there.