This month, the team here at Worship Exposed seeks to shine a light on the often looked over topic of Intercultural Worship. If you haven’t done so already, please take some time to read the Introduction before starting into my post. Thanks!
Getting to know the culture...
One way of impacting the culture around you is by getting to know the people and their history. So today, I am going to tell you a little about myself and the culture I am from. My prayer is that this hits somewhere home with you....
If you’ve ever had a face-to-face conversation with me, you’ll know one thing right off the bat. When I open my mouth you’ll hear an interesting sound. It’s kind of like the Deep South met a mountain man who’s been tucked away in a cave somewhere for years. The accent has a certain charm that is not quite as smooth as a Deep South (Georgian) accent, but not quite as hard as a northern American accent either. You will hear words thrown together in ways that proper grammar wouldn’t allow. You see, I am from a very small town in southern West Virginia. I am from a slice of America that most of the rest of our country has passed by with a faster paced lifestyle. Sometimes I wish that I had running water more than 3-4 days a week, cell service, or even a movie theater less than an hour away, but we here in Brenton, WV get by just fine!
While growing up, I always hated my hometown. I hated feeling so small and sheltered compared to what I felt as “the rest of the world”. My biggest goal of my senior year of high school was to leave my town as soon as possible and move to a bigger city. I thought to myself, “Anywhere else is better than here.” So when the time finally came, I moved. I went off to college in Lynchburg, VA, and for a summer after my senior year I lived in Houston, TX. I spent years away from my hometown in hopes that I wouldn’t become another hopeless hollow kid destined to be sucked into the black hole that is southern WV.
However, the funny thing is I’m writing you from a house in none other than good ole’ Brenton, West Virginia. You see, after my stay in Houston, I realized one thing that was for certain about me. The mountain state was engrained into my DNA! It took moving across the country to see that the place I felt most at home was well…home.
Appalachia is a culture all it’s own. It’s hard to truly describe in a simple phrase, or even in an entire article. If you ever visit, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful mountains, and some of the most kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. We live a slower-paced lifestyle and enjoy a rich heritage of Appalachian culture that stems back to the very beginnings of America. The interesting thing about my local culture is that West Virginia (which used to be western Virginia) was highly sought after by settlers of all cultures due to the close surroundings of the mountains and the abundant natural resources, such as coal and lumber. But you see, that rich abundance of resources didn’t always work in the settlers' favor.
To cut a long history lesson short, settlers of southern West Virginia were worked basically as slaves for coal companies. They lived in company housing, were paid with company money, and lived and died by their long hours of backbreaking labor in the mines for extremely low pay. All men in the coal camps worked for the mine. In that day, due to the lack of knowledge in mining safety, a mine collapse, or another type of accident, it was no strange sight to see a family lose a father, son, brother, and husband all in the same day. This would leave the women of the household without income and soon without homes because they belonged to the company, as well. Times were hard and even spiked rebellions by miners and their families. Unfortunately, the resulting depression that haunted our ancestors in the coal camps trickled down into modern day West Virginian ideology. As a worship leader who feels called to this region, it can be an extremely difficult demographic to reach. However, to me, it is by far the most fulfilling.
Near - “Reaching the Culture Around You”
To me, one of the most important things to understand about reaching the culture nearest to you is to remember that God is sovereign and wants you to grow where He has planted you. God is faithful to reveal Himself and His plan to you when you have the faith to trust that He put you where you are to accomplish it. Trust me...I know the struggle it is to be called to reach people who seem so unreachable. When those types of thoughts enter your mind, you have to remember the important fact that you were once a seemingly unreachable person. Let that motivate you to keep working toward whatever it takes to further the Kingdom of God. You can use the knowledge of your area’s history to custom tailor your tactics as a light for Christ. My plan is to be extremely encouraging to people both on and off of the platform and to make sure to go out of my way to let people know they matter to me. In my eyes, this helps to combat the depressed culture around me. I’ve even picked up doing random acts of kindness, such as paying for the meal behind me in the drive-thru or going out of my way to get back in touch with someone I hadn’t spoken to in a while, just to see how they’re doing. Whatever it may be, show the light of Christ to someone else at the next available moment! What do you have to lose? My guess is that you have nothing to lose but everything to gain!
Just like the moon reflects the sun, be the reflection of Christ’s light on the culture around you. Be a difference maker, and grow where you are planted!
This week, I challenge you to do something uplifting and selfless for someone else. One thing I encouraged others to do was every time you take a “selfie” go do something selfless! You never know just how much of an impact it may have on them! When you perform your random act of kindness, be sure to let us know on social media!