HOPE: Discovering Life by Engaging Cultures

The chapel topic this month is “HOPE: Discovering Life through Engaging Culture.” This topic is rather pertinent to me considering last spring I spent five months working with a campus ministry called Canvas in Nottingham, England. On the outside, England may seem like a European America, and while the two are similar, England is a completely different culture.

In my time ministering to university students, I discovered much about myself. I most relate this kind of service and the theme of this month to Matthew 16:25: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” The more you go into other people’s lives and live with them in their culture, the more you will lose yourself, which is an intimidating thought, but you will gain something much greater, and that is Christ. Do not think, though, that to gain Christ you have to go and live in another country for months on end. There are many different people and cultures even here in little West Point.

Here at Point we are blessed to have such diversity in students. Not just from other countries, but other regions of our own country or state. Culture is all around us, and despite what you may think there, is no uniform “American Culture.” There isn’t even a uniform “West Point Culture.” People are too different and diverse, as we are supposed to be.

A good biblical example of engaging other cultures is found in the book of Acts where the disciples are urged to spread the Gospel. Initially the Gospel was spread just around Jerusalem and Israel. The disciples could have chosen to stay within that area and only stay in the culture they knew and where comfortable with. But that complacent evangelism is not what Christ urges us to do. They went out to all corners of the world. Bartholomew went all the way out to India, others were called to stay around Judea and Galilee, while others went to the far corners of Europe and the Arabian Peninsula.

Getting outside of your comfort zone and being in another culture or community is intimidating. While it is hard, it is more fulfilling than it is difficult. From experience, I can say you can and do discover more about yourself and your culture by being engrained in other people’s ways of life.

Written by Caleb Peeler, Junior English major