The weary traveler arrives by aircraft, landing on the outskirts of a bustling metropolis. While in some ways this city reminds him of home, he is disoriented by the new language and strange clothing. People stop and stare at him, touching his hair and skin. He feels unsettled, wondering how he will be able to fit in and how he can find people who can help him accomplish his mission.Another voyager awakens in what seems to be a different age. She seems to have traveled back in time as the people surrounding her use antique tools and weapons. They cook over open fires and prepare foods with strange names and smells. She is intimidated, wondering how she'll be able to survive in this new environment.The two plot summaries detailed above could describe the latest movie releases in the science fiction genre or they could be read as descriptions of the challenges facing cross-cultural missionaries. There are a number of similarities between frontier mission work and science fiction stories; from encountering new cultures, to learning how to live in alien environments, to the significant potential for misunderstanding and unintended consequences, there is much they have in common.
This is an excerpt from my recent essay, "To Boldy Go: Why Cross-Cultural Missionaries should read Science Fiction" in the Missio Dei Journal. To read more click here.
Grace and Peace,
(Thanks to Brian Oliver for his picture of a Baobab tree)