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Spring 1990 · Vol. 19 No. 1 · pp. 57–58 

No Regrets [Vignettes of a transcultural marriage]

Pushpangadan Pappu and Arja Pappu

It is our privilege to write an article like this in order to give others a window on our lives. We in no way consider ourselves a model. But we can affirm that interracial marriage does work. Not only are we interracial—Pushpan is from India and Arja from Finland; but we met in England. We were brought together not in the eastern way of arranged marriage by elders or in the courtship marriage of the West. On a lighter note we say ours is also an arranged marriage: God is the one who arranged it in a very special way.

The cultural difference is not the main cause of tension.

We met in a third country, in the Lord’s work, in a team trying to reach out to the Asian Indian people in England. For us this is very significant. The fact that we were Christians who were committed to serve the Lord gave us a common goal and a strong foundation for our marriage. Had it not been for our desire to serve the Lord, we doubt very much whether we would have had the courage to undertake a relationship like this.

Now after almost nine years of marriage and four lively children, do we have {58} any regret? None, of course. Our lives are socially richer because of the opportunity to tap into the resources of two cultures. We can look at our value systems objectively and make our choices. There is always space for improvement; as we go along there is plenty of opportunity to forgive and forget, because of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our kind of life can easily fit into an international community. In fact, we have a real opportunity for ministry to people who are torn between two cultures without the benefit of the Lord.

Not only our ministry but also our home is of an international nature since we have children born on both sides of the Atlantic and are now living in a third continent, America, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. However, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we follow a biblical culture, one that transcends and can break through both eastern and western cultures. Human as we are, tensions are sometimes created when we think of our respective cultural hats. There is always an amount of tension as we balance ourselves between the time-oriented culture of the West and the people-oriented culture of the East.

Having lived together for the last few years in Europe and in North America, we are realizing more and more that the cultural difference is not the main cause of tension, rather it is the personality differences and everyday demands of a busy life.

Another area of tension could be the in-laws and relations on both sides. However, the grandchildren can make a strong bridge to the grandparents. It may take a while for people to be free from their hidden prejudices. However, when we see that a marriage like ours is functioning for the glory of God, better than some other marriages, we may join to praise the Lord.

Pushpangadan and Arja, church planters in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, are currently holding seminars in India. Pushpan, born in South India, received an M.A. from Nagpur University (India) and a diploma in theology from South Wales Bible College. He graduated from Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in 1986. Arja is a nurse by profession whose birthplace is Finland.

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