What Not to Do: A List for Expats

Today Go. Serve. Love is pumped to welcome back Rachel Pieh Jones–marathon runner, camel rider, mom, cookbook author of Djiboutilicious, and general all-out lover of Djibouti. This post originally appeared on her blog, Djibouti Jones.

From Rachel’s blog, Djibouti Jones: this post has stirred up controversy and passion that I confess I was naively not prepared for. I understand that many feel judged and I can see why and I apologize. This is not a list of commandments and it is a list of things I have done/still do. It is not a call for feelings of guilt or failure. It is not a perfect list based on research or facts. Mostly, it was meant to be a fun way to look at the choices we make as expats, with tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, which doesn’t translate well via the written word. I’m not going to change the post to soften the reactions people bring to it, I’m simply saying that I hear you, I’m sorry to have caused offense, and I’m human, both as an expat and as a blogger.

*Here is a helpful resource for expatriates, by Clara Wiggins

Hey all you expatshere are some things we need to stop doing. You’ll last longer overseas, enrich your time, leave a more positive impression, and you will never be the same. (Confession: I’ve done/do all of them myself, so an added bonus, #21 Remember no one is stagnant.)

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When the Rich from the West Don’t Know They’re Acting Like It

rich from west don't know they're acting like it

Today Go. Serve. Love is stoked to welcome Rachel Pieh Jones–a marathon runner, a camel rider, a cookbook author of Djiboutilicious, and a general all-out lover of Djibouti. This post originally appeared on her blog, Djibouti Jones.

From Rachel’s blog, Djibouti Jones: I have been wrestling with how to write about this for months. Starts and stops, lots of unfinished first sentences and barely coherent lists. Then I read this essay after the Rick Warren and race conversation flared up. When White People Don’t Know They Are Being White by Jody Louise on Between Worlds. She is humble yet forthright in the piece, a balance which is incredibly challenging to achieve around such a sensitive and potentially volatile topic. She spurred me on, inspired me, and clearly, informed the title of this post.

I’m giving you loads of links here that will lead to other links and I encourage you to take the time to read this stuff. I have been and don’t think I’ll ever be the same. It is hard, challenging, might make you angry. That’s okay, wrestle with it. Join me as I wrestle with it.

I am not surprised by, but continue to be disappointed in, the western attitude toward the developing world. It is an attitude I see often, though not exclusively, among Christians. It is an attitude of superiority, a god-complex. An attitude that communicates an underlying assumption, intentionally or not, that the rich westerner is the one with power and authority and agency. As this is communicated, of course the opposite is communicated as well. The local person is weak, a victim, and helpless. The rich westerner must charge in to fix things, build things, challenge the status quo.

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8 Ways to Help your Family Flourish Overseas!

We’re excited to welcome back global veteran David Armstrong. He’s set foot in 15 countries, and confesses that Crepes and Waffles in Bogota, Colombia is one of his favorite restaurants.

My kids spotted me as I rounded the corner two blocks from home–and started laughing and pointing. I was sporting the shortest haircut I had had since basic training. I tried to look confident.. I meant for it to be this short. I’m cool. Truth: I didn’t know how to tell the barber “too short”.

But it made me the winner of the “Most Mortifying Moment” prize that month–and paved the way for my kids to succeed. My too-much-off-the-sides demonstration: You can roll with this.

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Freebie Friday: 7 Standards of Excellence in Your Global Work [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here at GSL, we’re all about bringing you tools you can use to truly go there, serve Him, and love them well. So we’ve partnered with Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission to bring you today’s (totally printable) infographic: 7 Standards of Excellence.

Why do standards like these matter?

We acknowledge you may feel frustrated by patronizing “help” that actually hurts, or by work that makes us feel better but makes them feel worse, or by global work that continues cycles of poverty, or by missions trips that cannibalize employment.

That’s why. 

Because loving well matters. Serving our King with excellent work matters. Christianity doesn’t destroy culture. Christianity makes culture come alive— and development, too.

Wondering if your efforts–or the organization you’re thinking of going with– are on the right track to sustainable, effective outcomes? Check out these 7 critical standards. And print them here!

7 standards of excellence in global work

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My Story: The Language of Shoe-Scuffing

Go. Serve. Love is stoked to welcome David Armstrong today. A handful of unexpected facts about Dave:

  • He has taken off in an airplane one more time than he has landed in an airplane.
  • His current favorite character in the Bible: Balaam’s donkey.
  • He could eat black beans and rice with hot corn tortillas every meal of his life.
  • He’s set foot in 15 countries.
  • He already has his ticket for 4 days straight of playing table games at “Geekway to the West” coming to St. Charles, MO on May 17th.
  • He can shoot a rubber band 50% further than anyone else.

It was after church in Bogota one Sunday, all of us standing around and talking in the way so many Latino cultures love. Outside, one of the young college aged guys–with a big ol’ grin, no less–scuffed my new pair of kicks. On purpose. Like he was doing me an awesome favor.

Growing up with brothers had long ago convinced me that when you scuff a friend’s shoes, you run. Fast.

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Does International Development Need God?

We’re stoked to welcome Laurence Knoop, formerly of the British armed forces and now a construction manager in East Africa with Engineering Ministries International (EMI). Working mostly in Uganda, Laurence not only builds buildings but develops the men and women on his construction site, who are regularly discipled (don’t miss this video about EMI’s incredible program). Among his many projects, Laurence has helped construct the secondary school campus of Katie Davis Majors’ Amazima ministries, of Kisses from Katie fame. He and his wife Jane just welcomed their first son. You can catch their engaging stories on Instagram (@laurence.p.k) or their blog.

I recently came across two opinion pieces – one old, one new – both written by atheists and both promoting the value of churches and religious organisations in international development.

Matthew Parris – columnist for The Times and “a confirmed atheist” – is convinced “Africa needs God,” and that Christian evangelism makes an “enormous contribution” to tackling poverty in developing countries. Duncan Green – strategic adviser for Oxfam and “a lifelong atheist” – asks “are grassroots faith organizations better at advocacy/making change happen? and, after reviewing Tearfund’s report on their faith-based advocacy partnership with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Uganda, concludes that it is “powerful and convincing stuff.

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Does Christianity destroy culture?

If you’ve ever stood in the middle of African worship, it’s…well, it’s pretty hard to stand still.

Gotta admit. At a refugee center staff retreat, I started as a mild observer. I marveled at the literal full-bodied movement and vocalization: music that took over my heart, my body. I was, um, really dancing (don’t necessarily try to picture it…) to worship for the first time. Moisture leaked from the corners of my eyes. Perhaps you can see what I’m talking about:

After a rousing snippet of this kind of worship in staff devotions the week before, I’d told the teachers, this is just a sliver of what the African church offers the world. Every culture has its own strengths, its own vibrant display of the image of God.

And when Jesus comes, I will have watched so many cultures become the truest version of themselves.

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