As a child, I played follow the leader. I mimicked the actions of others for fun.
As a college student, I find myself in a very similar situation. This cross cultural is an extreme game of follow the leader.
Our leaders, Kim and Seth, model how to function in contemporary Europe. They guide us through cities and on public transportation. They gladly share their wisdom and calm our nerves. We follow. We learn by example.
These times of mimicking prepare us for times of independence. Almost daily we are given opportunities to explore or assignments to find specific locations. This is when the roles reverse. My peers and I will take turns directing, learning through practice.
Although this ever changing game of follow the leader is fun and challenging, it has a specific focus. We are tracing the paths of our Anabaptist roots. We are walking streets where they were beheaded or burned for refusing to recant their faith. We are crossing rivers where some were drowned and where some fled by boat. We are visiting towns where their communities thrived for a short amount of time and towns where they were forced to leave. We are following the steps of our Anabaptist leaders, imagining what life and faith meant to them.
Looking back over the last three weeks, I have learned a lot in this game of follow the leader. Navigating a new European city is no longer daunting. Ordering food, when the menu is only in German, is exciting. Boarding trains has become a normality. Walking tours are necessary. Overall, I have become more confident, learning the tools I need to navigate within a new culture.
I have also realized how comfortable my faith experience has been. My choice to follow Christ does not have life or death consequences. My life as an Anabaptist is so much easier than my fellow Anabaptists during the Radical Reformation. This shift in perspective has given me an avenue to reevaluate my faith and relationship with God.
Playing follow the leader is much more challenging than it sounds.
🙂 Madalynn Payne