Most of us can look around in our everyday life and see how the nations of the world have appeared overnight in our backyard. A visit to certain cultures that used to take a travel agency and extensive planning can now be accomplished by just doing normal life things. One could bump carts with a completely veiled Yemeni Muslim woman at the grocery store or wait at the bank behind someone who immigrated from Eastern Europe. It’s actually pretty crazy -- and for someone who has the heart of God, it’s almost too good to be true!
But too good to be true doesn’t mean that it is necessarily easy. We know heaven will be filled with those from all nations, from differing tribes and tongues. But, how exactly do we get from greeting a neighborhood Sudanese family to Revelation 7:9? Here are some practical ideas that could spark a new, Gospel-centered relationship:
- Start by praying. It’s cliché because it’s true. It honors God and sets a posture of humility from the get-go. Someone once said, ‘before you take Jesus to your friends, take your friends to Jesus.’
- Do a little research. Find out what people groups predominantly live in your area. Are there pockets of immigrants or refugees that you didn’t even know about?
- Brush up on your small-talk. A simple, well-timed question or comment can knock down walls and give an incredible sense of ease. It’s amazing how ninety percent of my conversations on the playground start by simply asking the question, ‘so, how old are your kids?’ From there a floodgate of relatability opens up and conversation takes off.
- Don’t put your hesitations onto someone else. Often our insecurities eclipse the reality of the actual situation. We will pull back from talking to someone because ‘maybe they don’t know English’, or probably wouldn’t be interested in talking anyway. Chances are, others are more desperate for human contact than you might think!
- Learn greetings in a new language. After you learn about (or meet!) someone from a new culture, have them teach you some simple phrases… and then use them! Imagine the sweet sound of someone communicating small things in your heart language when you are constantly surrounded by foreign sounds. What an effort of love!
- Pay attention to settings you are already in. What about immigrants who are nestled into your workplace, your kids’ school, your gym, your favorite restaurant? It just takes a new lens to see them. There could be incredible overlap for life and relationship together.
- Don’t be afraid to share spiritual things. It is way less taboo than we think to talk about spiritual matters in other cultures. Don’t read this and think you need to divulge your life’s testimony on a first interaction, or try and debate someone into God’s Kingdom. But, instead, jot down some things God has been teaching you, ways He has showed up in your life, or specific areas where you are finding peace and hope. Dwell on those so they are on the tip of your tongue when you next run across someone from a different culture or faith background.
All in all, none of these things are an exact recipe for success, and very few things in life work out in a formulaic way. But coupled with a heart that is open and sensitive to God’s Spirit, these efforts could be so fruitful!