There’s a quote I first heard in a missions class that’s recently been on my mind. It goes like this,
“Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on another’s dream, more serious still we may forget that God was there before our arrival.” – Kenneth Cragg
I think it’s funny Cragg uses the illustration of taking off our shoes when approaching another culture, because my team and I literally do that everyday whenever we go into our refugee friends’ homes. But I love this picture because there’s something about taking off our shoes that shows humility, respect, and honor for people in their home, and I think we need the same attitude for any context and people we interact with in missions. We need this posture of reverence and humility no matter where we go because it reminds us that God is there right now and has been there way before we showed up. If we view the places we go as holy and full of God’s presence, we are more likely to be sensitive to the work God has already done in that place, and what He wants to continue doing.
However holding this posture is a lot easier said than done. When I think of the homes and families I visit, it’s sometimes really hard to see those places as holy. Some homes are filled with so much heaviness from broken relationships, trauma from horrendous pasts, loneliness, grief, and Satan’s lies that it’s hard not to wonder where God is in all of it. Yet, this quote challenges me to dare to believe that no matter how dark a place looks God is still there and has been there from the beginning. Nothing can stop God’s love and holiness from penetrating a place, and nothing can ever chase it away! In places we go, may we all have the attitude of taking off our shoes and remember God is working a way bigger story than we can see, and He is never done with people.