What is 3rd Culture Living

Rob and I spent our first four years of marriage in China (Read our past newsletters here). Since then, God has put the “3rd Culture Living” perspective towards life on our hearts from our own struggles in our cross-culture communications, marriage, ministry and now parenting our two boys. We are blessed to share many areas of life together: homeschooling, BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), building a home-based business, and now running this site. I believe the Lord brought us from the opposite sides of the globe together as a couple to humble and refine us, not just to enjoy or frustrate each other. Crossing cultures opens our mind to understand that givens we had always assumed to be true, may not be as set as we thought, and that we are not yet truly Home. When I look back, I am still in awe of God’s unique way of intertwining our life paths together (Read our engagement story here). Different up-brings, cultural backgrounds and various life challenges turned my world upside down, (my husband is the more stable one in the adventure). As a wife, I struggle with pleasing my husband or my Lord. I want to do the “right” thing but what is the “right” answer? The American way or the Chinese way? Submit to my husband or strive to have my voice? Or maybe somewhere in the middle? Or even better, something totally new?

I can only find the right answer in Jesus when numerous decisions and choices seem overwhelming to a weary body and mind. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself ” (Philippians 3:20-21). We can’t do everything exactly the same way as we were raised, neither can we simply follow the flow in the cultures where we are living. We are committed to finding a “3rd Culture” in Christ in our daily living! We are not ashamed to live as “foreigners and strangers on earth” and “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. … ” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

“3rd Culture Living” is a lifestyle as a family, a progress to be prepared and equipped as citizens above; it is a way to apply what Apostle Paul teaches “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2).

In conclusion, the Golls’ definition of “3rd Culture Living” is:

We embrace our different cultures and other cultural exposures, to challenge us to renew our minds as we strive to not just follow our assumptions, but to apply Biblical principles in all aspects of our life in dealing with decisions, conflicts, and evaluating beliefs, to be passionate ambassadors for Christ through His daily transformation.

In a practical sense, after much wrestling and throwing thoughts back and forth with each other (a lot of “3rd Culture” discussions :)), we decided on “Simple Abundant Legacy” as the best way to describe our desire and approach.


Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

It takes planning and discipline to be “simple” in this hurried, activity-driven society. Simplicity encourages creativity, organization and seeing what is really important. We hope to use this site to accumulate some practical organization ideas, life principles and simple fun family memories.


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. “(Luke 12:15)

Simplifying our life should never become our idol. “Abundant” life in Jesus should be the ultimate goal of a simple life. We desire to record reflections through digging into God’s Word and living meaningfully and joyfully as a family.


“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”  (Deuteronomy 4:9)

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise“. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

What do we want to pass on to the next generation before we are with the Lord? How do we teach our boys while we are still on this side of the heaven? The legacy perspective helps us set priorities in our life, including what to include for this site and how much time to invest in doing so.

Gain more insights into “What is 3rd Culture Living”, by reading “Why this site“.

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