Posts by Peter Luu

I’m a Jesus-follower. Call me a Christian, if you must. Right now, I’m pastoring at Brisbane Cantonese Christian Church, in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. I love disciple-making, mentoring, and sharing life with people. Coffee snob. Foodie poser. Wannabe tech geek. Married to Julie with two super cute kids, Joseph & Emily.

What’s in a name?

Glory // 榮耀

The Chinese word for ‘glory’ is 榮耀. My Chinese name is 盧耀國. My dad’s name is 盧榮林. When you highlight the generational (middle) characters of my dad’s and my siblings’ name— and 耀, respectively.

What legacy will my dad and I leave to my children and future generations?

My dad was a humble man, he never sought his own glory, but sought the benefit and blessing of those around him. His funeral was a testimony to this; the funeral hall was full and people spilt outside in memory of his life.

The significance of this name is not lost on me. At this stage of my life, I’m not the humble man my dad was, I can only trust God will finish this work in me—seeking not only my own glory, but the glory of our Lord and Saviour.

Ghost Month

Ghost month. A period of time when the gates of hell are opened, allowing ghosts and spirits to enter our world. It is a time for them to feast on the food and drink offerings made for them.

Ghost Month Offering

At the height of the month, the ghost festival (the 15th day of the seventh lunar month), it is believed deceased ancestors visit the living. Around this time, people will offer food and drink, burn incense, joss paper (paper money), and various other things to the ghosts to alleviate their suffering and hunger. Also, a wash basin is provided for ghosts to wash themselves.

As we watch on from a distance, grandparents invite their grandchildren (toddlers and such) to follow their lead, worshipping their dead ancestors. Store owners pack tables full with various goods in hope of appeasing any mischievous spirits. People stand over a brazier burning mounds of joss paper…

It’s depressingly sad. I wish I could tell them there was another way, there is no reason to be scared…

Culture shock: why don’t you understand?

I’m an Australian-born Cambodian-Chinese (aka ABC). I have thick, black hair; dark brown eyes; and a fairly tanned skin tone. No, this isn’t a dating advert, but it’s a pretty standard description for most South-East Asians.

It’s almost a month since my family and I moved to Taiwan to serve here with OMF International. One of the challenges of living and ministering in Taiwan is my Asian appearance. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, stay with me.

The locals

If I walk down the street on my own, Taiwanese locals will look at me and they don’t think anything of it. I look enough like a local, that is, until I open my mouth. Whether it’s ordering food, trying to open a bank account, or sort out health issues at the hospital, I get this look—Why don’t you understand?

Additionally, even though I grew up in Australia there are elements of Asian culture which I’ve inherited from my parents. As such, I feel an unspoken expectation and pressure to conform to the Taiwanese culture. What are those expectations, I don’t actually know. Still the whisper comes: Why don’t you understand?

It is all too easy to become judgmental and look upon my Australian upbringing. It is all too easy to begin comparing the West and the East. It is all too easy to shut myself and retreat from the world. None of which would be at all helpful. After all, the purpose of coming to Taiwan was to be part of reaching these people with the gospel.

However, it’s not only with the locals where this issue arises.

Co-workers & expats

On the other end of the spectrum, expat co-workers can overlook or forget that Western naturalised Asians are not necessarily equipped with the language and culture of their ethnic origins. While my experience of this is fairly minor, it does happens. Whether there are cultural expectations to act or behave in a certain manner, or language expectations where I completely miss what’s going on. Why don’t you understand?

I remember working back at home in Australia where the office culture was casual and friendly, but in a public setting, the culture was prim and proper. I was completely caught me off guard! And that’s in my “home” culture.

Here in Taiwan, I work with a team of people from different countries with their own language and culture. There are Swiss, Germans, Singaporeans, Americans, Australians, just to name a few. While English is the working language, only a few call the English culture their own.

The cultural expectations from expat co-workers is probably more dangerous than the cultural conflicts with local people. Why? Conflict with co-workers is one of the most common reasons for missionary attrition.1 I don’t expect any major conflicts, but I expect there will be some. Missionaries need your prayers for their relationships with their co-workers.

Biblical identity

So, how do we to respond to culture shock? How do we deal with the ensuing cultural conflict? Where do we define our identity in the midst of all this transition? What keeps us going?

As we undergo these transitions, we can’t define ourselves from our “home” culture, nor can we define ourselves from our new “adopted” culture. If we continuously define ourselves from the changing world around us, we are tossed around like leaves in the wind.

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

— Mark 8:27-30 (ESV)

If you’re familiar with the Gospel of Mark, one of the driving motifs is the identity of Jesus. Mark opens his Gospel, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1) Peter declares Jesus as the Christ, and the Gospel will climax with a Roman centurion declaring Jesus as the Son of God (Mark 15:39).

What’s my point? Jesus knew exactly who he was. His life and mission, culminating in his death and resurrection, is driven by a solid knowledge and acceptance of who he is. He is the Christ. He is the Son of God. The opinion of people around him didn’t sway him from his path to redeem humanity from sin.

The Bible sets out our identity in Christ. We are adopted co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), sons and daughters of God. We are saved by grace and we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are a holy priesthood for the worship of God (1 Peter 2:5). This barely scratches the surface.

As I wrestle with culture shock, the one thing that keeps me grounded and gives me strength to move forward each day is knowing who I am in Christ. Satan seeks to chip away at this foundation, but he cannot. It is a firm foundation on which I will stand. I belong to Christ. He purchased me with his blood. He gave me life, and he gave it abundantly (John 10:10).


  1. Too Valuable to Lose: exploring the causes and cures of missionary attrition by William Taylor Find it on Amazon 

The blessing of support ministries!

We’re new field missionaries. We’ve served for the past couple of years as support missionaries on the “homeside”, but now we are serving on the “field” in Taiwan for the next 18 months or so.

As new cross-cultural workers, we are in the midst of transitions. We’re dealing with culture shock, faced with the limited ability to communicate effectively, learning how to manage day-to-day life in a culture and society different to our own.

These last few days, we were faced with a frustrating situation. Sickness. As we struggle with all the challenges of transition, we now need to figure out the medical system of this country. It’s not like going to the supermarket and figuring out what’s fresh milk, soy milk, or yoghurt milk…

After a misdiagnosis yesterday, we contacted our medical advisor (who happens to be in New Zealand) for a second opinion. We were able to get the opinion of a medical profession who understands our home culture and our adopted culture. While Taiwan certainly provides excellent medical care, there are cultural differences which result into slightly different approaches to patient care.

Just the ability to speak to someone who “speaks our language” and understands our situation without getting things lost in translation is a huge relief. As a result, tomorrow we’ll return to the hospital to get one small detail adjusted to see if we can’t get an improved care plan as we deal with sickness in the family.

We’re fortunate we work with an organisation which believes in supporting its workers to enable long-term effectiveness and survival (it’s already hard enough to survive in cross-cultural ministry without the added stress). Our organisation enlists the help of various people with suitable gifts to support its workers. Some of these roles you would find in any typical organisation: finances, HR, IT, etc. Some, however, are unique to the cross-cultural sphere: language & culture, prayer, TCKs, etc.

There’s more which can be said about the importance of support ministries (check out this article). I just wanted to say thank you!