You see, you don’t have to know Arabic, or Persian, or Urdu to effectively meet and get to know people from a different culture. Just a word or two of another language goes a long way. The rest is the friendly and hospitable attitude that we bear. Because I live and work in an area with a lot of Middle Eastern people, I am able to make a lot of contacts every week. Jeff, a English teacher, holds classes at one of our International Friendship Centers. Coffee breaks in the kitchen become moments to make new friends. Through this English class alone, and my three words of Arabic (I actually know more, but it’s only the first three that I really need to greet people), I am meeting so many people.
For example, there is Bryan, a baptized member of my church, who drives me to the airport on occasion. Sally, another new believer whom my wife and I had lunch with the other day, Zaynab and her teen daughters who came to our home for dinner, and Mr. Alawadi, a young Arab man with a masters degree in English. I was able to help him get his car fixed inexpensively through a mechanic I know, and he later invited my son and I to have lunch at his house. And recently, we sat and discussed the fact that Christians do not believe in three gods (a common misconception Muslims have about the Trinity), but that we do believe that Jesus is the Savior who died for our salvation. Because he speaks English well, I was able to convey all of that to him in English.
I assure you, having an English class at your church, knowing those three words of another language, and your friendliness can help you do exactly what I’m doing—sharing the love of Jesus with those I come in contact with. That’s the nature of the mission field that is right next door. God is bringing the people to us. So, let’s be sure to meet and greet with the friendly warmth of God’s love. Who knows the miracles that can happen from such simple beginnings!
-Rev. Dr. Gary Rohwer