This is from the July Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

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Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the July edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of James Nelson’s book Crossing Cultures with Ruth: Lessons on Thriving in Missions. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation


Crossing Cultures with Ruth: Lessons on Thriving in Missions

Author: James Nelson

Publisher: GMI, Colorado Springs, 2014, Paperback 178 pages (ISBN: 978-1941405024)

Also available in Kindle format (B00JD5RXGM).


Although Ruth wasn’t a traditional missionary, her faithfulness to God in a foreign culture provides a practical model for today’s cross-cultural workers.This book offers mission workers encouragement and inspiration as they discern and work out God’s call in their lives in a different culture. It also provides practical insights that are based in Nelson’s years of Fruitful Practice research into the best means and methods of missionary outreach.

Best chapter

Chapter 5 – The Harvest Field Always Looks Whiter

“Sticking to the work of cross-cultural mission is harder than it seems. Spend a year or more on the field, and you are likely to see workers leave unexpectedly. As we interviewed fruitful church planters, we asked how they defined their teams. One veteran worker responded, “We stopped defining our team formally because so many people came and went. We think of our team as those who stay, whatever their agency or accountability structure.” Kindle location 644

“Ruth persuaded Naomi to allow her to accompany Naomi to Bethlehem. Then, Ruth asks for permission to work in the harvest fields and Naomi agrees. Cross-cultural workers who stick are those who feel that they have a voice in how their work gets done, whether they are accountable to a local team or to leaders who reside far away.” Kindle location 683

“Workers who stick have a strong appreciation for God’s provision. They may not have the most resources—in fact, many say they struggled to raise financial support. But they stay, in part because they know that their needs have been provided by God and his people.” Kindle location 708

Best quotes

“Little has been written about Ruth as a model cross-cultural worker, perhaps because Ruth was not a ‘missionary’ by most standard definitions. No one sent her. She had no missionary intentions. She brought no one to conversion. She was not even a Christian.” Kindle location 85

“Rather, Ruth is a rich example of something every current missionary needs to be—a person who makes necessary cross-cultural adjustments skillfully, because her trust in God is deep and practical. Her example also points to that of her descendant Jesus, also a cross-cultural servant, who arrived as a newcomer in Bethlehem.” Kindle location 87

“Ultimately, Ruth becomes a cross-cultural servant who partners with a redeemer to bring forth new life. This is one of the ways that Ruth serves as a powerful model for those who serve Christ cross-culturally.” Kindle location 160

“Cross-cultural witness has its ultimate model in the incarnation. A group of evangelical scholars affiliated with the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization said it ‘might be called the most spectacular instance of cultural identification in the history of mankind.’ Christ’s followers bear witness to it each time they accept his commission to go into all the world.” Kindle location 500

“The gospel doesn’t enter into an empty cultural space, where its light can shine brightly like the stars in the heavens. The gospel comes into cultures that have been wrestling for millennia with the meaning of life and the problem of death. They already have their own solutions. Those solutions make sense at some level—but without the saving love of God’s perfect redemption, they are fatally flawed.” Kindle location 1043

“These contrasts highlight the righteousness of Boaz’s plan and suggest that Naomi’s plan was contrived to solve a problem but was driven by fear rather than faith:

Naomi’s plan

Occurs during the night

Very private setting (witnesses avoided)

Decision centered on opportunity

Skirting around the Law

Goal is gaining security

Boaz’s Plan

Occurs during the day

Very public setting (witnesses called)

Decision centered on responsibility

Fulfilling (or going beyond) the Law

Goal is sustaining the legacy of life.” Kindle location 1464

“The application for cross-cultural workers is clear: Be ready to both earn and spend your reputation on behalf of those you serve. Ask God to show you clearly when to adhere to cultural expectations and when the time has come to counter them.” Kindle location 1533

“In a final act of costly love, Ruth is called upon to share her new child’s identity with the people of the town. What did the neighbors do to earn such a part in the story? They bore witness. Perhaps the ultimate gift in cross-cultural service is the opportunity to give up ownership of the movement that emerges. The community of faith will celebrate together the work of God’s Spirit. Your own role may or may not be celebrated, but the praise goes to God—and the story of his work is owned and shaped by the community into which new life comes.” Kindle location 1753

Best illustration

“Ruth came to Bethlehem with very little—but she was anything but empty! The same is true for you. Those who are sent as Jesus was sent have been given authority and power. You have Jesus’ promise that the disciples will do the things that he did—and even greater things (John 14:12).” Kindle location 588

 Best idea

“One of the most encouraging things about entering a new culture is the assurance that God is already there preparing the way for you. As you arrive, be watchful for ways that the Master is at work among the people. Commit yourself to listening and observing—spiritually and culturally. Signs abound in the second chapter of Ruth to point to ways that God is providentially bringing Ruth to the places and people that she needs to encounter.” Kindle location 542

 Best take away

“You are never more like Christ than when you cross cultures. How can I say that? Because Jesus crossed the greatest cultural gulf of all time. You are never more like him than when you are willing to empty yourself of your home culture—no matter how amazing and honorable that culture—and love those within another culture for the purpose of bringing life.” Kindle location 505


Cross-cultural training by way of biblical narrative is difficult to find. This book does just that. We recommend it for agency new member orientation reading, or even in church group settings wanting to explore what it takes to minister cross-culturally.

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