Reflections of God

by Chris Lautsbaugh on April 11, 2014

Many times in missions, we speak of the difficulties with greater frequency than the good things.

We talk about racism.
We speak of our various phases of culture shock.
Stories of being hurt by those we work with abound.
Even at times, we venture into difficult topics like trauma or loss.

What of the positive?

I don’t mean newsletter stories of lives changed or projects completed.

What do we love about the people we work with?
What traits are present in the cultures or nations we work in which serve to glorify God?

Since all human beings are made in the image of God, there are glimpses of the Almighty which shine through in all peoples, cultures, and nations.


We can easily point out the negatives of a culture, but what of the positives?

When people meet me as an American, they are quick to point out all our deficiencies and failures as a nation. But, what of Americans generosity and value of human life resulting in simple things such as customer service, free speech, and freedom of religion.

It is so easy to see all you do not like.

Can we take a moment to pause and see the hope and treasures our nation or people reflect of God?

In South Africa, I work in a land rift with horrible crime statistics, corruption, and an all too often broken family structure.

But as a land, South Africa and her people reflect these traits of God as they are made in his image.

– A peaceful transition to democracy.
– A land of opportunity and hope for all of Africa.
– It’s people have incredible abilities in the arts, such as art, writing, and most of all singing.

People will often look at the development here and say, “This is not real Africa”. Essentially we are saying Africa can not develop and must remain poor. This nation reflects a God given ability to “take dominion” and make things better. I love that about South Africa.

And its natural beauty in many areas is second to none.

How about you?

The only rule here is – only positive things!!! (and no criticizing or critiquing others positive statements- no one can debate what I love about America because it is how I see God through her people and my nation)

So let’s go!


What do you love about the people you work with? How do they reflect the image of God?

What are your favorite things about the cultures or nations you serve in?

Photo By Sylwia Bartyzel

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About Chris Lautsbaugh

In missions for 20+ years currently in South Africa as a teacher and leadership coach. He serves side by side with wife, Lindsey, and two boys, Garett and Thabo. Blogs at on grace, leadership, and missions. Wrote Death of the Modern SuperHero:How Grace Breaks our Rules.
  • I really, really love this article. This is so true!! Croatia reflects tenacity and determination to survive. A refusal to be dominated. There are so many things I love about this country…and yet so often my focus get stuck on the negative. Thank you for this reminder to refocus!

    • Many of us could use a little more “stick to it ness”. Thank you Croatia!

  • Marilyn Gardner

    Love this – the hospitality of the MIddle East not only reflects the image of God but also gives much insight into life in the time of Jesus. The emphasis on people rather than programs is a gift. Thank you for this article.

    • How powerful are positive images coming out of the Middle East. Many believers now have such a negative perspective of this part of the world. Thank you for sharing!

  • John Donaghy

    The hospitality of the poor in the countryside is a real gift.

    They have also been very welcoming to the visitors I’ve brought in from a sister-parish in the US.

    In addition, I don’t know how many times I have had car problems and people have helped me get the car started (in the city and in the countryside) and they refuse compensation of any sort.

    There is also the commitment of many of the lay pastoral workers; we have probably over 200 in the parish where I help. They are poor but they serve in their villages. They will also walk long distances to get to training sessions. I remember a few years ago asking one person how long he had walked to get to the meeting; four hours, he told me, and he had four hours more walking to get home.

    When I see resilience in some people in the face of violence and poverty I am also humbled.

    • Hospitality and resilience. Anyone want more of these in their lives? Sign me up!

  • I really love this article! I’ve experienced so many different cultures lately that my head is still spinning trying to process everything… I couldn’t agree more that ‘there are glimpses of the Almighty which shine through’ in all of them. I am a South African and I agree with your points, but I would like to add – their sense of humor. It is something I really miss about my home country. Keep up the good work over there! Blessings

  • Mariska Buzzard

    Thank you Chris. I love this article. As a South African living in the US I miss many things about being home. However, I see the beauty in the place the Lord has called us. The US is huge so I am speaking from a perspective of loving in Montana. I love that there are very few unwritten rules. It is OK to say no. Speaking up is considered healthy. Winter weather (and by that I mean 7 months of snow at least) promotes lots of family and friend gatherings. Friendly drivers. Long Summer days. Cherry picking, Thanksgiving. The ability to get amazing deals on almost anything if you are willing to look for it. Leaving our door unlocked when we leave for a week-end or the car running to keep the heat going when I run into the store. The ability for kids to run around the neighborhood relatively care free. Wildlife – herds of deer, resident squirrels, turkeys, a bear, fish – all of these have been found in my back yard:) Just a few things…

    • Hello Mariska – How sweet to hear your perspective as a “foreigner” living in the States – and especially Montana! This is where my family roots begin 🙂 – I now live in Oregon. I appreciate you sharing those things we tend to take for granted even within our own borders. At the same time being grateful for the things that can make it difficult to adjust especially when in a culture different from our own. (May I ask where you live in MT?)

    • Marilyn Gardner

      I needed to read this Mariska! As an Adult TCK who has spent far more time overseas than in the U.S. I tend to be way too critical of the U.S. It’s so good to read this and although we live in the city so there are a lot of differences, still remember the good stuff. Thank you.

  • AKgoestoINDO

    Indonesia is incredibly beautiful. When I’m in trouble, there is always someone who will help me. (even when they have to go buy a water-bottle, drink it’s contents, drive to a gas station, fill up the water-bottle, drive back and fill up my empty motorbike) =) ATMs are way more useful than in America

  • Richelle Wright

    i love the hope and the perseverance in even difficult circumstances and the creativity of solutions for at least that day. also, i’ve learned much from my nigerien friends about holding onto my hopes, dreams, plans – but doing so with an open hand so that God is free to redirect. the cultural prominence of humorous but also poignant proverbs in every day conversation is another thing i loved while in w. africa.

    i miss greatly the sense of fascination about, awareness of and a love for learning about others we found in the international expat community there.

    as far as quebec, where we are heading – the history of storytelling and the love of a good story. so many of the quebecois i’ve met love to laugh and have an amazing sense of humor – that i actually get. (i didn’t always catch nigerien jokes!) also the force and resilience of people who won’t let frigid cold and winter keep them inside – the love of this beautiful world we’ve been gifted.

  • lindseylautsbaugh

    South Africa… a land of beauty and gratitude. A land of tenacity. They are creative and entrepreneurs in the business field. A land of forgiveness. It’s not easy but they slowly they pursue reconciliation one step at a time. A shining light in Africa where they speak up and tell the truth (even if it gets a little contentious and costs them something personally). A nation where they make room for expats like me who make mistakes but they cover it with lots of mercy and grace. A nation I am so proud to call home.

  • Beautiful, Chris! This is one of my favorite posts on this site to date. Spot on!

    The Bolivian people reflect the still small voice of God. At their best they do not clamor for attention or position. They speak softly requiring the listener to slow down and attend to the words. I confess that I deeply undervalued this trait at first. Now I have come to love that the Bolivian people teach me to listen patiently and on purpose.

  • Laura

    The people of India have servant’s hearts like no other. Whether it is a wife serving guests in her home or the children in church caring my bag to Sunday school for me.

  • Susan Lee

    I love Guatemala and it’s people. I often think God is showing off here with the beauty of the volcanoes and even provides a puff of smoke to remind me of His power! The people are awesome, giving even though they are in need, smiling and being joyful even though they have many hardships. They have shown me great love and patience in my learning of the language. So humble and accepting, I am truly blessed to be here.

    • If only we could say that every day….”I am blessed to be here.” I need that!

  • Tonya Liles

    We hve lived in Lima for 18 years and I admire so much the willingness Peruvians have to forgive, to overlook a fault and to not hold a grudge! It is refreshing and beautifully reflects this quality of our Forgiving Father.

  • Great Post! Catalans (from Catalunya Spain) have deep passion for food, time together and good wine/cava making! 😉 They are open to out of the box creativity and understand how to draw people together from different cultures (to a city like Barcelona). They are also refreshingly honest and genuine with their feelings and love freedom! Thank the Lord for making Spaniards and Catalans!

  • Kim Johnson

    We live in Ukraine. Over the past several months my live and respect for Ukrainian people has grown in leaps and bounds. They are a people who fiercely love their country, and though they’e been beat down again and again, they have shown remarkable grace and restraint these recent months. Ukrainians are kind. They care for others and will always help me out when I’m loaded down with 4 kids and bags of groceries on the trolley bus. Ha! They are now fighting to live a new way and I’m so proud of them it makes me cry. 🙂

    • Wow. This is powerful in light of the current situations!

    • Marilyn Gardner

      I love this Kim. It’s so good to read this personal take on a country that is currently in the news daily. Thank you.

  • Linda Funke

    Off the top of my head, I love the Tanzanian sense of hospitality, their ritual hand-washing before meals (beautiful and practical), their creativity in reusing items that I might have thrown away, and their understanding of the ministry of presence. Just this week a youth in our community died very suddenly and hundreds of people came to the family’s house. They said very little, sitting with the family for hours. There were no platitudes. They were simply there, and there is something to that.

  • I love reading all of the comments! I’m only beginning my journey of serving in France, and my first observation is that they find beauty and art sacred. I look forward to observing more reflections of God during my time there.

  • Beckywithasmile

    In the country side in Japan, I love that my students are taught responsibility and that leaving them in the classroom is ok. I love that people are always looking out for me as the tiny town’s English teacher. I love that I’ve found a church where people really do love each other and I love the long drive through the country side to get there.

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