Archive for the ‘exchange’ category

French cultural exchanges and Christian mission

September 13, 2010

A colleague working for the Church Mission Society, Sas Conradie, reports on an exchange visit from his home town of Uckfield to its French twin town near Dieppe and reflects on the value of such trips for Christian mission in Europe.

“We visited the twin town of Uckfield (our home town in East Sussex) near Dieppe as part of a group of our town’s twinning association. Dieppe’s international kite festival started on Saturday, so we were able to see that as well. This was definitely one of the most wonderful weekends we had for a very long time. It is still strange to think that one can get off a ferry at 4am on a Saturday in a place one has only seen on a map, staying with people one has never even heard about and then leave 36 hours later as good friends having becoming part of their community as well. We stayed with the French sales manager of a Nestle subsidiary that has their headquarters near Dieppe. He is managing about 2,800 sales people across France. It was fascinating to hear him talk about business approaches in different parts of the France. These say so much about the different cultures in France. For example in the north, you can take somebody at their word without them even writing it down. In the southeast near Nice and Cannes, ten signatures on a document still mean nothing because people might do the opposite. People near the German border want to have their own business representatives because they do not trust anybody else. I’ve never been involved in mission in France, but I thought that we can learn much from this new friend of ours in how to engage in mission in different parts of France. I will definitely stay in touch with him.

The visit also showed just again the importance of Christians participating in these town twinning initiatives. We witnessed in France as part of who we are and not as part of a specific outreach. I think we need to encourage this more. The new friendships (in Arques and also the ones with the Uckfield group) are the experiences that we will most cherish in future. The spectacular kite festival and even the visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery (which was very special to me as a South African) were just the cherries on the cake.”