It looks like you've stumbled across our old website. 
Check out our exciting new website for great resources, community, courses and more!
hello world!

Today we come to the fourth of Chuck Lawless’ ten New Year’s Resolutions that are intended to help us grow in Cross-Cultural Mission awareness. This one is relatively easy to do and comes with a very low price tag: “I will learn about internationals in my community. Missions begin at home, especially when God is bringing the nations to us. Talk to your pastor or local government officials to get demographic information about your community. Talk to the international student office at a local university. Find out who is around you. Get to know them. Share the gospel with them. Pray for them.”

How many of us live in our own small social ghetto? Not literally, because we have the ability to move around quite freely in most of our cases. But how many of us gravitate towards people who are similar to us and who share our ideas and perceptions of society? That makes us comfortable.

A classic example of that is Paul before he met Jesus. Acts 9:1-2 tells us that “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Why was Saul so hostile to Christians? Because that is what his ghetto taught him. Why did he go to the high priest for authorisation? Because the high priest was the ghetto chief. That's how Saul had been brought up. Look at what he says in Philippians 3:4-6: “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” That defines Paul's ghetto. That is all he had known.

Let me hasten to say that there are also Christian ghettos and individual country culture ghettos!
Paul only changed when he met Jesus. It's bordering on the ridiculous that three days later the Jesus who had radically changed him was able to say to him: “For he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles (those right outside his ghetto)” (Acts 9:15).

Jesus, the ultimate ghetto buster, wants me to learn to befriend and win to Him those who are different from me, those who live way outside my ghetto.

How would I go about that? Anthony Witten of IMB has 5 suggestions. He admits that it can be challenging to connect with international folk.

1. Connect as a friend. Try to understand what it's like to live in a culture and environment that's not your own, what it's like to be the strange one on the outside looking in.

2. Show genuine interest in their culture. Let them know that you genuinely care for and value them by becoming a student of their culture. Let them teach you about their homelands. Eat a meal together from their culture. Listen as they share stories of their life. Ask what their family is like, how their culture observes certain traditions, what influences have shaped them, whether it is culture, family, religion, or any myriad of other ideas. Learn about them!

3. Be stable, gracious, and inclusive. Because of cultural differences, it can be difficult to understand people from other cultures. Their idea of time, commitment, and priority can differ greatly from yours. Do not allow these differences to discourage you or provide opportunities to denigrate the student. Open your home and 'adopt’ them if they are students or short-term visitors.

4. Share the Gospel story over the course of time. Share the general story with them, pointing out the creation, fall, redemption, and restoration plot line of the Bible pointing to Jesus. Go slow. It will most likely take several times of hearing the gospel before they might be ready to respond.

5. Leave the results in God’s hands. Sharing the gospel with students from different cultural backgrounds is neither easy nor quick, but it is such a privilege and joy to invest in them. It requires tremendous effort, prayer, tears, and laughter. When you seek to be a minister of the gospel to them you may be the only Christian with whom they have a personal relationship. If they reject the Gospel when you are with them, love them still! Who knows how that might speak to them?

A final question: Who is the person from another country or culture that you know and love best in your home country? I can answer that! Ali, my Iraqi friend who calls me “my brother by another mother”! If you cannot answer that question, maybe today’s resolution number 4 wants to change that!

Source: International Mission Board

Share this with somebody!
Published on January 28, 2024
Sign up for FieldPartner Emails

Did this post help you? If so, it would be good if you could leave a comment and share this post on Facebook

Ross Paterson
Reflections from Our Journey - Our Missionary Blog

Email: [email protected]
Courses for Cross Cultural Missionaries: Browse Here
blog icon

Sign up for Blog Updates

Oh no...This form doesn't exist. Head back to the manage forms page and select a different form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FieldPartner is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram