My first stay in a foreign country, one with a majority faith that differed from my own, opened fresh insights into my own faith and calling. I grew in appreciation for my faith and its basis in love. Love, the agape love of God, is our good news for the world, Christianity’s most unique gift.
I also observed how foreigners view Americans. I understand the disdain many of them feel for what they see as our instant-gratification culture. They see it as a danger to their own families and way of life.
A third observation gave me an appreciation for the challenges of moving from a rural, family-based culture to a more urban, cosmopolitan setting, as was happening in my guest country. Though my faith is different, the same challenges face suburban and rural American Christians as they move into a similar world. Their way of life is no longer mainstream.
My focus in my writing since then has centered on the place of the American Christian in a world changed beyond recognition in one or two generations.
Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, Searching for Home, Quiet Deception, Distant Thunder, and A Sense of Mission (all OakTara), was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Dhahran), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Bureau of Intelligence and Research)