David had felt “but we must!” have conflict resolution with Z___, and was not given that opportunity. God worked in wonderful ways, however, and we are reminded of how good He is.
Recently we taught class sessions on Cross-cultural Communication and Biculturalism, and I had the opportunity to remember and appreciate the bigger story.
The teammate who stayed, the young Japanese pastor, grew and kept growing. More than ten years later, he is still pastor and the church continues as a creative witness in its community.
Communication, understanding and trust were strengthened between the mother church elders/pastor and the younger pastor over the years we worked together, and David played a key role in that. All of this took place in Japanese, with its nuances of respect, honor, and varying degrees of indirectness. Ironically, the gaikokujin (literally “outside country person”) who was operating outside of his native culture and language, was used by God to aid their communication with each other.
The book hadn’t been written yet, but David was following principles described by Duane Elmer in Cross-cultural Servanthood (2006). Openness, acceptance, trust, learning, and understanding are what “must be” modeled and pursued in ministry teams, if we are to thrive and succeed. I am honored to have seen that in action, especially in a multi-cultural setting with its extra challenges.