Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Anti-American sentiments

(Thank you for your feedback last week. This question came in, so I'll keep thinking about what will be in this space later....)

A reader writes: "We recently had a situation with a missionary friend here in which a [local person] told him that [local people] as a whole do not like Americans. We have sensed it in numerous situations but no one has actually said it out loud to us. Is this normal? Do most missionaries feel that the country, in which they are serving, does not like them and does not want them to be there?" I also add: Please share any anti-American/Western/your nationality experiences that you would like to tell and let us hear how you've dealt with them.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


  1. We experienced some anti-American/western sentiment but it wasn't everyone. Many others appreciated our home country and help received in the past... and enjoyed the dream of eventually going to American or receiving future help. Terrorist activity, however, became increasingly common in our 14 years. Our way to handle this was generally avoiding situations where we knew it was likely, dressing in a local style (including wearing the head scarf as women) when out in public to avoid drawing undue attention to our family), learning some of the local language and making sure we were vigilant, avoiding crowds, heeding embassy warnings and info from our local contacts, etc. While hateful looks and snarky comments happened fairly frequently, we usually never felt threatened or overly harassed.

  2. We have never actually experienced it, but we're heard plenty. It can be weird, sitting there, listening to someone rant about America, or America's president, or Americans themselves. Usually, at some point, they will acknowledge us, and say something like, "Of course, you don't count." So, I've never had hate directed against me or my family for being Americans, but I knew plenty of people who don't like America.

    It's gotten especially acute lately (online). Sometimes I watch discussions my husband is having, and just shake my head in disbelief. (I stay out of controversy online.) Do people even remember who they're talking with? Russians telling an American living in Ukraine that Ukraine is an American colony, overrun by Americans? Huh? Anyway, it's strange and sad to live with a part of me in three countries, when they aren't really liking each other these days. But, then, it really doesn't affect daily life at all for us.

  3. We live in Russia, and obviously politics between our two countries haven't been that great, especially in the past year. We have had a number of experiences of anti-American sentiment, but not the life-threatening sorts of things that some people experience. Almost all of the negativity that we've experienced has been from people that who don't know us well. I've realized that God has given us a special ministry during this time because when we show God's love to Russia and Russians despite the fact that our countries are at odds, I think it is even more striking to people and it gives more power to what we share about Christ's love for us. People expect us to say negative things about Russia and politics, but when we refrain and show love, it it seems to really affect people. Jesus too loved us even when we were at odds with Him and His kingdom because of our sin. Though anti-American sentiments can be difficult and have even affected some aspects of our ministry (we've largely lost the American "superstar" status that once existed here), I feel that it opens other doors to show Christ in some unique was that we've not experienced before.

    Another thing that I've been saying lately when people ask if I'm an American is to say, "Yes, but I've been living in Russia for 8 years now." I think showing our long-term commitment to this country has helped to break some barriers and show our care for Russia. They see our love for this country proceeded the current heightened political oppositions. I've also had a lot of good conversations about how though our countries are politically at odds, we as people are very similar at our core. Talking about our similarities is a great way to break down the political barriers and also leads to great opportunities to share about our common need for Jesus.

    From what I've seen it seems that in many places around the world, Americans have lost their novelty and are not very well thought of, often for political reasons. Of course we wish it weren't that way, but even so, I think the Lord can greatly uses these situations for the furthering of His kingdom.

  4. (oops, that was supposed to be preceded not, proceeded)