Adults

Authentically Honest Relationships

three young women

Recently, one of my friends reached out to me after a few months of us not really contacting each other. Nothing bad had happened between us, but a period of change had come upon us in the form of moving homes, towns, and churches. It’s easy to lose touch with someone we don’t see on a regular basis. We like to convince ourselves that the smartphones ever attached to our hands keep us connected with others. But truthfully, it becomes so much easier to give a person a passing thought (“Oh, I should text her soon.”) and then go about our days until a few months have passed and we wonder what could have happened to the time.

My friend was a bit offended that she hadn’t heard from me since the “Big Move,” and I didn’t blame her. Promises of keeping in touch and hanging out were made but not kept, as they should have been. Instead, I told myself that she was really busy moving and acclimating to a new time in her life so I should give her a little breathing room. And honestly, I had several not-always-pleasant changes going on in my life as well.

Trash or Treasure: A Unique Garage Sale Ministry

garage sale sign

Do you enjoy scrambling through someone else’s no-longer-wanted items to find just the treasure you have been seeking? You may not even know you need an item until you discover it among the collection of treasures. Garage sale junkies, both men and women, are utterly thrilled with their finds.

Rethink garage sales! What if your church organized a garage sale where the items were free as a way to develop relationships in your community that might lead to sharing Christ?

Missionary Spotlight Update: Cynthia Martin

Cynthia teaching English

Cynthia Martin and her husband, Tom, feel as if every refugee who comes their way in Las Vegas is sent there on purpose by God, and over the past year, that has included a number of Afghani families.

“The men speak English because they were translators for our US military in Afghanistan, and because of that, their families were threatened and then had to flee Afghanistan for safety,” Cynthia said.

They may speak English well, but their wives don’t, and so they approached Cynthia to ask if she would be willing to teach their wives.

“I was already teaching 2 classes per day, but they could not attend those classes,” she said. “After praying for wisdom, I knew that God had brought these women to Safely Home [Refugee Ministry] and I needed to engage with them.”

So she started a new class just for them so they could bring their children with them.

“That meant that at the end of an already full day, I had 2 more hours of teaching approximately 8 Afghani mothers with about 15 preschoolers running around,” she said.

Share Who You Are by What You Share

sharing over coffee

When people ask you to share a little about yourself, are you inclined to begin by describing the different hats you wear: mentor, mother, teacher, or the like? Some titles indicate relationships we have formed, while others describe a status. For Ross and Shirley Mackin, sharing who they are means living out their Christian faith in their relationships. The Mackins, International Mission Board church planters in Thailand, are active in sharing who they are by what they share with the people around them.

On one occasion, the couple went to see a woman named Rose* at her chicken and rice stand on the main road where Ross had once distributed tracts. But Rose was not there. She had pointed out to Ross the direction where she lived, so Ross and Shirley decided to drive that way, hoping they might spot Rose outside her house. As the couple were driving, they saw Rose in her garden. God had led them to her, and they were able to follow up with some good conversations.

Tell Me about Your Country: 4 Ways to Help Refugees Feel Loved and Welcomed

Asian boy at laptop

Kelsey Smith has met a lot of refugees, but she remembers 1 boy in particular. “He was 14, fresh off the plane from his country of asylum, spoke almost no English, and no one else in the program spoke his language,” said Kelsey, who works with a nonprofit organization that helps refugees begin to build a life in the United States. “He appeared tired, dispirited, and completely uninterested in participating in our activities.” She couldn’t figure out how to connect with him.

Then 1 day, Kelsey walked by the computer lab and saw that he was using Google Earth to look at his home country. “I sat down beside him and used gestures and simple words to ask him questions about his country, and that was the happiest I’d ever seen him,” she said. “His face lit up as he used what few words he had to tell me about his home.”

Reaching out to refugees is important—and making them feel at home is vital, Kelsey said. She offered several ways to interact with refugees to make them feel loved and welcomed in their new country:

Invest in Gospel-Centered Relationships

South Asian women

I got out of my taxi and walked down the street, stopping at Rajani’s* gate. Rajani, a neighbor named Swetha*, and their friend Lukshmi* were talking. I said hello, but what Rajani said next caught me off guard.

“Emily, tell Lukshmi about Jesus!”

My neighbors Rajani and Swetha aren’t followers of Jesus, so this was the last thing I expected to be asked.

“Well, what do you want to know?” I replied.

It turned out that Lukshmi was writing a report for school on Jesus and needed some facts. About an hour later, the girls gathered in my apartment and they drew henna tattoos on me while I shared the gospel.

I gave Lukshmi a Bible and prayed for the girls. I haven’t seen Lukshmi again, but I see Rajani and Swetha whenever I’m out in my neighborhood.

I make it a point to stop at Rajani’s gate and talk with her anytime she’s outside to build my relationship with her. Before that night, I had told her about Jesus many times but was never sure if she understood. The fact that Rajani recognized me as someone who knew about Jesus was a step in the right direction.

What I Learned before Turning 30: Investing in Others

young women talking over coffee

I turned 30 this month. When I turned 29, I searched for one of those “30 Things to Do before Turning 30” lists. However, my search left me uninspired; therefore, I decided to write my own “30 Things I Learned before Turning 30” list. One of the main concepts that came from this was that of investing in other people. The following are a few excerpts from my list:

Growing Deeper in Relationships

Growing Deeper

Picture this: You’ve just met someone new and you’re really excited to get to know them and become friends. Over the next few weeks, you learn more about this person, but in small fragments. You find yourself wishing you were already close friends with this person because you can tell how wonderfully you would get along and how much you would have in common. But it just seems as if you’ll never get there.

Have you ever felt this way? I have. There’s even an unofficial word for it. John Koenig created an online dictionary of words to fill in “holes” in the English language—to give us a sense that we are not alone in some of the ways we feel and think. Koenig describes the “frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone” as adronitis. Do you feel better after hearing that a word semi-exists for this feeling? The thought calms me.

Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered

friends on a bench

I am so blessed and grateful to have loving friends who take time to be intentional and invest in my life. These Christ-centered relationships are incredibly meaningful and encourage me to pour into others. My sweet friend Anna, who is a junior in college, is passionate about building these kinds of authentic relationships, so I asked her to share some of her thoughts and experiences:

Why do you think it is important to grow deeper in relationships?

“Thinking back to my middle school [years], high school [years], and even first years at college, I see how much I was poured into. I’m so grateful to have had such incredible people around me that wanted to invest in me, but I also know the gaps that I felt were not as invested in. I needed people who would ask questions until I was finally open and honest about what was truly going on. I needed people who would send that quick text of encouragement that perfectly matched what I was dealing with. I needed older mentors who would prioritize spending time with me because they wanted to be available for me.”

What are some ways you intentionally invest in friendships?

Taking Hope to the Hurting: Network with Social Services to Meet Needs

homeless woman

Picture a lonely single mom standing in line at the social services office or a young woman getting out of prison with no family or friends to support her. Imagine a middle-aged man addicted to painkillers, feeling misunderstood by his peers as he struggles toward recovery.

What do all these people have in common? They are all individuals with spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.

So often when we search for missions projects, we overlook the desperate human needs all around us. For many of these isolated individuals, their only connection to “help” is agencies outside the church. Finding these people can help us bridge the gap and build relationships for the kingdom.

Ask your local social services office for specific ways your missions group members can help area individuals. What are people’s most desperate unmet needs? Would the office allow you to post a flyer or church brochure on its bulletin board?

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