Crossing Cultural Boundaries with the Apostles’ Creed

November 4, 2022 Concordia Publishing House

Our missionaries are incredibly important in spreading the Gospel truth to the world, especially in places where Christianity is uncommon. These called workers of Christ are diligent in sharing their personal faith and the beauty of the Gospels with those who don’t know Him. Emily Belvery, author of Together We Believe: A Study of the Apostles’ Creed, shares her experience in the mission field using the Apostles’ Creed to bring the most basic confession of faith to those who needed clear and concise answers about Christianity.

“I was overseas after graduation, served in Taiwan and East Asia, and now I continue to work for Mission of Christ Network, my former sending organization, on the U.S. side,” Belvery said in a CPH Podcast episode. “So, I help recruit new missionaries and connect churches.”

New Country, New Language, Same God

The first few days in a new country can be intimidating, especially when learning cultural norms and an entirely new language. Belvery describes it as, “Very humbling. It was like becoming a child again. Not being able to read. Needing people to help you order at a restaurant or go to the grocery store or the doctor. Any of that.”

God humbles us in very different ways. When she was sent to the mission field, Belvery experienced difficulties firsthand and realized she needed to rely on God to guide her through.

“I think people in Taiwan would say, ‘You’re so independent for leaving home and coming here. You have such courage, such strong faith.’ I would say it was really a lesson in dependence and recognizing [that] in the U.S., we might be able to fool ourselves into thinking we’re independent sometimes, even though as Christians we know we’re fully dependent on God. Living cross-culturally, you recognize that every day.”

Together We Believe focuses on reexamining the Creed for both new Christians and those who have been in the faith for a while. Belvery really wanted to focus on guiding new believers through the Creed in Mandarin, just as she had learned it in English.

“At the same time I was learning ‘I’m American,’ I was also learning ‘Conceived by the Holy Spirit and suffered under Pontius Pilot.’ I attended a bilingual Lutheran Church and I really wanted to be able to speak that Creed along with Taiwanese brothers and sisters in worship and learn faith language. I was in Taiwan to be able to share Jesus with people, and so that kind of vocabulary was a priority for me.”

Sharing the Creed in Asia and America

In learning the Creed in Mandarin and reaching out to her Taiwanese brothers and sisters in Christ, Belvery recognized the need for the same thing in America. For her, there was a great need for outreach to the same type of people she was sent to Asia for—those who didn’t know Christ.

“Part of my goal is to address that audience which I think sometimes churches in the U.S. don’t expect to show up. We just assume everyone’s grown up in the church. But there’s a lot of people, especially in my generation, who didn’t grow up going to church, don’t have a background of faith, or are returning to church after a long time away. So, I did want the study (Together We Believe) to speak to people coming in with maybe very little background in the Bible but wanting to know about the triune God.”

Yet, for lifelong Christians, there’s a huge well of information in this study. It offers a place to sit back and reexamine a confession of faith that was likely memorized at a young age and routinely spoken. This rote memorization is wonderful in a church service, yet there is still an opportunity to sit with God and realize exactly what you are confessing and how important this is as a Christian.

Teaching the Creed: An Anchor Point

Belvery first noticed how pivotal the Creed was as a learning and teaching tool during her classes.

“When I taught this in Asia, I had one American student in the class who had grown up in a nondenominational church and hadn’t really used the Creed growing up. She was a little questioning about why [we were] studying this, and as soon as we got into it she was like, ‘Oh, this is actually really helpful in trying to explain to people who ask what do you believe as a Christian?’ We might think about the entire Bible and be like, ‘I don’t know where to start!’ Well, the Creed tells us where to start. It’s an overview of what we believe. It gives you kind of an anchor point as you’re reading other portions of Scripture.”

Through Together We Believe, you can also learn how to reach out to others in your community through the Creed. It provides answers and common points of discussion for anyone, especially those who haven’t gone to church or used the Creed. From Asia to America, God proves that His Word truly is for everyone.

Emily Belvery, “Studying the Apostles’ Creed,” interview by Elizabeth Pittman, The Concordia Publishing House Podcast, October 1, 2022, https://cph.buzzsprout.com/1176293/11414002-studying-the-apostle-s-creed-emily-belvery.

Hear more about Emily Belvery’s missionary work and her inspiration behind Together We Believe in her CPH Podcast episode. 

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