Posted by: Catherine Weston | January 22, 2016

Crossing Cultures with Jesus

When we first began our journey welcoming international students we struggled to find books that spoke to the issues we were facing. Yes, there were lots of books about mission and about crossing cultures for Christ. But they were all geared for helping people who are planning to go or who have already gone ‘overseas’.

And it’s all very well reading something that helps me relate to Chinese culture, but what if, next week, I meet someone from Peru? Or Madagascar? What if my seekers’ group includes Vietnamese and Eastern Europeans? Traditional missionaries have the opportunity to be embedded long term in one place and to get to learn one language and culture well. I am in my own country, relating to a wide range of backgrounds and understanding of the gospel. How can I share the gospel with people from such different cultures and worldviews? How can I effectively make disciples who will sustain their walk with Jesus and make a difference when they return home?

Thankfully a book has just been published which fills the gap. I wish it had been around when we first started. The author, Katie Rawson, has had long experience of working with international students in the US and has penned a thoughtful, comprehensive guide using Jesus as our model. Giving the reasons why she wrote the book, the author describes researching conversion patterns among East Asian students.

“Some of the testimonies of the twenty-eight converts I interviewed disturbed me. Their conversions seemed shallow; these students had not changed at the worldview level. Additional years of observation led to the conclusion that helping people understand how the gospel affects them culturally is critical for conversions to be deep and transformative. The crosscultural part of crosscultural evangelism must not be ignored” (p 14).

Chapter headings include:

The challenge and opportunity of crosscultural evangelism; keeping in step with the Spirit; developing trust relationships; examining worldview lenses; understanding value systems; communities that draw in; communication that connects…

This book marries a deep understanding of scripture with insights from cultural anthropology. It is an engaging read, with many real life examples and stories. Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and discussion, so it could be used in a team-learning context. I’d like to think that every international student worker reads this book. It’s my new ‘go to’ book to recommend.

Crossing Cultures with Jesus: Sharing Good News with Sensitivity and Grace

By Katie J Rawson, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL: ISBN 978-0-8308-4438-8

Available here in print or for Kindle.



  1. Hi Richard (who I have just met in Bratislava, loved the conversation we had) and Catherine that I have not met. Thanks for this book recommendation, it sounds really pertinent for our journey with international church ministry including with students in the Netherlands. Thank you both for sowing into the lives of others. God bless you, Andy

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