Sharing your faith cross-culturally is not that difficult, but you might have to take everything your mother told you about manners and throw it out the window.
Okay, I know that sounds harsh and yes it is slightly overdramatic. This is exactly how I feel working with people from other countries. I am in New York City working with the diaspora who live here. I live here with my family in a large population of people from Bangladesh. My children go to school with many Bangladeshi kids. We hope to find people who seem spiritually interested and who want to study the Bible.
How do you do that, you might ask?
Here, you take all the things you once knew or learned as a child and file it away in “Other Ministry” file
When around Bangladeshi people, do as they do
I can remember getting the parental nudge as a child. You know, when you said something, usually embarrassing and your parent would give you the elbow or a swat? I can remember asking someone with a different accent, “Where are you from?” As uncouth as that was at that time, here in the world’s melting pot that is New York City, it is quite normal. In fact, I often start with,
“Hi there, where are you from?”
“Ahh, Bangladesh. Kemon Achen (how are you)?
“Where at in Bangladesh?”
“Ah, my neighbor lives in Chittagong. Where do you live now?”
All these things I learned not to ask as a kid. The difference is most people, aside from Americans, enjoy talking about who they are and where they are from. Especially when you can greet them in their language or when you show them you have invested interest in them or their culture.
If you ask them, you can come
The Bengali people are very community-oriented. Most cultures base themselves around community. At the beginning of our ministry with Bengalis, we were encouraged to get invited into that community. How? My mother’s voice remained seared into my mind. “We do not invite ourselves over to someone’s house.”
As it happens, this could not be further from the truth. My wife met some ladies at the library. She greeted them and they talked about each other’s children. After only minutes of talking, she asked, “Can I have your number and come over to your house some time?” A look of joy spread across the lady’s face. She was honored to have someone want to come to her house.
Embrace the “Drop-In”
We “dropped-in” to visit a family who told us to “come by anytime.” It just so happened this time we woke up the dad from a nap on his day off. Even so, they made food for us, and the grandfather went to get pizza for the kids. There is so much to cross-cultural ministry that seems foreign to us Americans.
It feels awkward to stand at someone’s door knowing you have not prepared them for your visit. The joy it brings them, however, is worth it. We have been thanked beyond count because we honored them with our presence. Also, we have been fed more than we can eat. All this to say, cross-culture ministry opens doors into people’s lives. And, when we are invited in, the gospel is also invited in.
Who knew sharing your faith could be so easy?
Interested in reaching unreached people groups in New York City and learning to share your faith? Check out our opportunities and we will explain your next steps!