Reaching Beyond Your Culture

When I was in first grade, a girl named Esther joined our class. My teacher explained that Esther’s family had just moved from Hungary, and Esther spoke very little English.

I loved Esther from day one. I thought she was fascinating, and I wanted to help her feel a part of our class. I discovered the perfect tool for breaking the ice: stuffed animals. Each day, I would bring one stuffed animal for Esther to play with in class. Even though she couldn’t communicate well with words, we both knew how to play with toys.

Later I decided that I wanted to get Esther a Hungarian Bible. My mom tried to help me find one, but we were unsuccessful. However, we did buy her a Bible in English. Esther’s mom told me that their family had one Bible, but Esther had never had one of her own. She was very excited.

Since befriending Esther, I have always had a passion for sharing the gospel with people from a different culture. The great news in college is that I’m surrounded by people from other cultures!

I’ll admit international friendships don’t happen overnight, and they can be a little awkward at first. The first step is finding something you have in common. While stuffed animals were a great common ground in first grade, I’ve learned that a go-to topic of conversation for international college students is food.

Many of my friendships with international students have started at the table. We would first eat in the school cafeteria, complain about stale cookies, and talk about the food from their home country. The next week, I invited them to church on Sunday followed by lunch at an “American” diner.

Regardless of the specific culture or “common ground,” God has given me a desire to love people from other cultures and bring them closer to Jesus. This month, challenge yourself to look for people who come from a different background than you, and ask God how you can befriend them.

Rachel Sinclair writes from Birmingham, Alabama, and loves to share people’s stories. Contact her at rsinclai@samford.edu.

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