Slow Down Enough to See People

closeup of young Sudanese man

I heard someone speaking Arabic at the assisted living facility where I work. Not realizing it was the Sudanese man I knew who frequently brings deliveries to the front desk I work at, I rounded the corner to find David on the phone. Immediately after he got off the phone, I began speaking to him in my very broken Arabic, excited to make a connection with someone who speaks the language I have studied and love.

David makes deliveries 1 or 2 times an evening when I am on shift, and each time, we talk about his life, his work, his story. He shares bits and pieces with me from his past and has started to call me “Habibi” when he sees me, which is a term of endearment and friendship in Arabic. One day, I came into my shift with a project I was working on in Arabic for the Scripture reading at church. I wanted to show it to David to see what he thought. He was so excited to see my handwritten Arabic Scripture and then proceeded to read it out loud. I listened with joy as he read this profound text from 1 Corinthians.

Encounter the Lost

Intentional encounters make a difference. David knows I genuinely care about him as a person, and with each encounter we have, a friendship has formed. He knows bits of my faith, and I know bits of his.

For me, encounters with people who don’t follow Jesus are about opening my eyes to the world around me and seeing the walking, talking, breathing human beings in my sphere. At the grocery store, at the restaurants I frequent, my coworkers, and my neighbors. We each encounter people daily who don’t follow Jesus, and it takes a measure of slowing in our rhythm and routine to stop and hold a conversation, which leads to a friendship, which then leads to sharing your faith and your testimony.

It’s powerful—to be seen, to be known. For someone to look you in the eyes and see you in that moment and acknowledge you and your story and your life. It’s powerful.

In my urban city life, people tend to bustle from one thing to the next and don’t always stop and see each other. It’s an intentional action, an intentional choice to show up in the room deciding to engage the world around you.

Make a Connection

What are the rooms where you show up? Where do you encounter people who think differently or follow a different religion? What would it look like to find a connecting piece for you and a person who thinks differently or lives differently than you? For me, at my office, it was a language that brought me and my new friend together. For you, it may be your children, your work, your interests, or a college group you are involved in.

Connection is intentional, and if you find you are not connecting with the world around you, then look for ways you can slow down to do so or ministries or nonprofits you can get involved in. Each city has its unique needs and pulse; maybe it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and reach out and connect to the kingdom work happening around you. When you encounter people and get to know them, I hope you sense the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Need help getting out of your Christian bubble and meeting new people? Consider volunteering with a local refugee ministry or your local Christian Women’s Job Corps site.

Abi Khavari is a mother of 2 who lives in Denver, Colorado. After serving overseas, she followed her call back to the States and has been ministering to her family and community. Right now, her missions field extends from tucking her toddlers in with hymns and prayers to gathering women together in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) to share their hearts and their journeys. Follow her on Instagram @abifaith18 to read more thoughts and blogs.

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