Tom Krohn and Melissa Tataspaugh-Krohn, Maryknoll missionaries in Madagascar
(If you haven't read 1 Corinthians 13 lately, check it out first and this will make a lot more sense)
If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copyall mannerisms so that I could pass for a national but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock its accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt its home culture, is not proud of its national superiority.
Love does not boast about the ways we do it back home, does not seek its own ways, is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of its home country, does notthink evil about this culture.
Love bears all criticism about its home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures all inconveniences.
Love never fails, but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is linguistics, it will change.
For we know only a part of the culture and we minister to only part.
But when Christ is embodied in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.
When I was in America I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American; but when I left America, I put away American things.
Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly; but Christ will live in it intimately. Now I speak with a strange accent, but Christ will speak to the heart.
And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language facility and love.
But the greatest of these is love.