Category Archives: Cross cultures with love

God, give me friends

We are always encouraged to hear from fellow believers who are seeking to live out their faith. Here is a guest post showing how God supplies friends… for our encouragement and ministry!


When my husband and I made a significant move from one state to another we went with the confidence of the Lord’s leading and direction.  But as we prepared for the move I had a concern.  A huge concern.  How could I leave my dearest friends, made over 40+ years, and start all over again?  So the women in Bible study bathed this concern in prayer, and at the going away party they threw for us I said, “I will never forget you.  You are ‘forever friends’, and can never be replaced.  However, I’m confident God will provide new friends, simply adding to my list of forever friends.”

We moved to our new state and town, and into a rental house while beginning to build a new house.  A month after moving I was cleaning house when the thought suddenly struck me, I don’t have a single friend yet. We were still visiting various churches so hadn’t had a chance to make friends there.  The tendency was to wonder why the Lord was taking His sweet ol’ time to answer all the prayers, but then my next thought was, You’ll just have to make the first step toward friendships.  That was bit terrifying as the neighbors seemed somewhat aloof.  How could I break down the barriers?

One day one of the neighbors was out in the yard so I ventured over to meet her.  She was lovely, so a flicker of hope ignited that we might become friends.  A few days later one of the neighbor men walked past while we were working in the garage, so we waved him over.  After exchanging pleasantries we learned that he and my husband have a mutual acquaintance dating back years and years.  And years.  What was the “coincidence” of that?  None.  It was a God thing.  Joyfully I asked, “God, are You up to something?”

A few days later the neighbor lady I’d met texted asking if we were available Friday night for a neighborhood get-together.  It turned out that three of our neighbors (three couples) wanted to get acquainted with us and the get-together was in our honor.  During that enjoyable evening it was decided we’d continue this on a monthly basis, each month going to a different home.  We were able to host the August get-together and made homemade ice cream while the others brought toppings.  What a fun time!!  As we said, “Goodnight,” and left last month’s get-together the hostess ran out the door after me, hugged me and said, “You’re such a nice person.  I love you.”  Each month that the neighbors get together someone says to us, “You’re not allowed to move into your new home.  We want to keep you as our neighbors.”

I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 2:15 where the apostle Paul writes, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (NIV)  I want to be an aroma of Christ to my neighbors.

A few weeks back a neighbor rang our doorbell, and I could immediately tell that something was wrong.  As we sat on the couch together she sobbed out her story, and I prayed for wisdom.  I had to wonder why had she come to our house instead of to one of the other neighbors.  Lord, was it your fragrance to which she was attracted?

We’re now getting involved at a wonderful church.  Recently our pastor said that to him his dad had been Jesus with skin on.  My prayer is that I will be Jesus with skin on to my neighbors.  Not only has God answered my prayers for new friends, He’s giving them to me in spades.


This is a good time to be reminded of the S.A.N.T.A. approach to making a friend, especially of another culture.

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The stalled car

Recently a friend shared this story with me. He emigrated to the USA from Norway as a young man. One day he was driving along a busy road in the Seattle area and his car broke down.

This occurred on a Sunday morning. He stood by his car, not knowing what else to do, and watched as car after car whizzed past him.  He could tell that many of those passing him by were on their way to church.

Finally, a car slowed down and pulled over. The driver got out. He was dressed in shirt and tie. His wife and three children, were also dressed for church.

That family spent several hours helping my needy friend. They missed church that day.

They WERE the church that day.

My friend and the family are still good friends after many years.

Love that is worthy of Christ is often inconvenient.

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The man in the dream

Some months ago a young woman from Iran named Hamideh became a follower of Jesus.  She wanted to be baptized in water as an expression of her new faith in Jesus. Her husband Kambiz attended the baptism as a courtesy, but he did not believe as his wife did.

Kambiz showed no interest in spiritual things until there was concern during Hamideh’s delivery of their baby. During the wee hours of that night when Hamideh was having difficulties in labor, Kambiz prayed to Allah, Ali, Hussein, and Muhammad and nothing happened. But then he saw nurses pray for his wife in Jesus’ name and Hamideh’s strength returned and she was able to deliver their baby 10 minutes later.  This began his interest in finding out why this prayer in the name of Jesus was effective.  He grew up in a religious Muslim family from Iran.

Months went by.  Kambiz and Hamideh accepted an invitation from Christian neighbors, Brian and Kathy, to a special service at their church. During the service, Kambiz leaned over to Brian and whispered that he wanted to be baptized just as Hamideh had been. Brian and Kathy were very surprised.  They followed up to find out what had happened between Good Friday (the day when Christians remember the death of Jesus Christ) and this Sunday in the church service. On Good Friday, Kambiz had walked away from the service with lots of questions, such as, “How could Jesus be God if he was praying to God on the cross?”

Brian and Kathy answered some of his questions, but they could tell Kambiz still had doubts, so they encouraged Kambiz to pray daily and ask God to show him the truth about Jesus.  He said he remembered to pray that several times, but became busy with his final days of graduate program.  One evening, Kambiz drifted off to sleep while worrying about his need to find a full-time job in a few weeks’ time.  If he didn’t find a job fast, he would have to return to Iran.

In the middle of the night, he had a dream.  In the dream, someone spoke to him and said, “Don’t worry. I will take care of you.”  Kambiz asked to whom he was speaking and these words came back to him, “I Am that I Am.”  The man in his dream spoke to him in his Persian language.  Kambiz was confused by the answer.  He had never heard those words before. In the morning, however, he did not remember the dream.

Several days passed when he had another dream.  This time, in his dream, the person spoke to him and asked him how he was.  After they chatted (again in Farsi), Kambiz asked him who he was and he answered the same way as the previous dream: “I Am that I Am”.  When Kambiz woke up, he not only remembered his dream, but he recalled his first dream.  He went and asked Hamideh who is “I Am that I Am”?

Hamideh replied, “He is Jesus.”

Kambiz asked for Jesus to reveal Himself once more.  Then, on that Sunday, Kambiz went to the church service, but was not following the song because he found it was too difficult to understand.  However, right in the middle of the song, he heard these words ring out clearly, “I Am that I Am.”  At that point, Kambiz felt that God was speaking to him and he believed that Jesus is alive, that He is God, and that He died on the cross for his sins.

With tears in his eyes, Kambiz told Brian and Kathy that Jesus spoke with him in Persian and when He called Himself “I Am that I Am” it meant that Jesus had always been and always will be!  Kambiz put his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He said, “I know Jesus is alive!” He asked to be baptized. And surely there is much rejoicing in heaven over this new member of the family of God.

On the following Monday, Kambiz was offered a full-time position at a job.  Jesus had indeed taken care of him.


This true story (names changed) took place in a city in the USA. This is why our ministry is called “Near Frontiers.”  And this story has taken you on another #NearFrontiersTREK to the mission frontier that is near. If you would like to explore a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, please email us at doorbell@nearfrontiers.org.

Photo credit:  WP Image Smart

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A higher purpose in hiring

My friend Don has a heart for refugees. As a Christian, he has told the Lord that he wants to be available to respond to needs which God brings across his path.

One day recently, Don was leaving a coffee shop and a thought crossed his mind. Acting on it, he asked the manager if he would consider hiring a couple young refugees from East Africa. “Sure,” was the reply, “have them fill in the online application, and bring them in next week.”
Encouraged, Don went to the next errand on his list, a printing company in town. Surprised by the positive response from the cafe, Don asked the print store worker the same question. Again, Don was amazed by the reply, “We would love to hire them. Come back next Tuesday to talk with the boss.”

The entire day unfolded in this same vein!

  • (At a car dealership) “Set up an appointment with the manager. We can always use young people to wash cars. Here’s the email address.”
  • “Does he have a license? (not yet) “Come back after he gets his driver’s license.”

Later in the day Don shares the good news of these job possibilities with his two young friends. They are thrilled. One  sent a text message: “Thank for encouragement. I graduate next year. Thank you for helping me to learn.”

Refugees are on a long journey. Their future is unknown. They have great courage. When they find helpers along the way, it means a great deal.

Let’s ask God to give us eyes to see them, and ideas for helping them find opportunity. We can do this in Jesus’ name, and provide a loving witness that won’t be forgotten.

And if you manage a business, consider hiring with a higher purpose!


Photo credit: WP Image Smart

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The tired traveler and the taxi man

I heard a cool story today and want to pass it along to you.

A man flew in from a country in Asia. He was a Muslim. He had flown many long hours and was exhausted when he arrived. He was supposed to be picked up at the airport by someone, but when he landed there was no one looking for him. He waited for a long time, wondering what to do in this strange new land.

A member of the Ethiopian church in Seattle was driving taxi that night. He saw the stranded traveler. Approaching him, the Ethiopian asked the immigrant if he could help, even offering to give him a ride and let him stay overnight at home.  The traveler gladly accepted, spending not just one night but two. The next day, the Christian helped the visitor contact his friends, who came for him.

Some while later, that visitor decided to visit a church in Seattle. When he entered, he looked up on the platform and who was preaching that day but the very taxi driver who gave him transport and lodging! He soon declared that whatever that taxi driving preacher believed is what he wanted to believe also. And he placed his trust in Christ.

Let’s keep our eyes open for ways we can welcome the stranger. Our loving actions, even when small, send a clear message!

 

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With Jesus into the fray

There’s nothing better than getting spiritually jazzed when speaking with your board chair person. But I just got off Skype with Ray Sanford and have a few thoughts from our conversation to share with you.

Near Frontiers is a group of bridge-builders, connecting our good news Savior with needy people in the cities where God has placed us. There are areas of American cities where you don’t see banks or grocery stores. Police rarely venture into those neighborhoods. Instead you see potholed streets, boarded up shops, and schools so poor the parents don’t see the value of sending their kids.

Yet there are Jesus followers who move into the fray and represent Him in these places. Ray shared about his adult children, Ray and Mel, who live in West Philly. They invited students from Mel’s university cohort for Thanksgiving, and had Chinese, Indonesians, and an African for dinner.

There is a current in America (in fact globally) that is isolationist.  It would pull up the bridge to keep newcomers out. It would send immigrants back “home.”  That current will kill churches, and stifle Christian maturity.  That is the wrong response to the unprecedented scattering (diaspora) of our time.  Jesus said that it is unwise to pay more attention to the weather forecast than to understand the signs of the times.  Look at what God is doing among the nations and be amazed at the Great Commission mandate.

The Kingdom of God is going to advance by moving into the fray, not by avoiding it. Christ came for the sick not the healthy. In Near Frontiers we are bridge-builders, but we also call on believers everywhere to join the project and build with us. Don’t miss out on this gloriously messy time.

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Thanksgiving for my Muslim friends

I had the blessing of hosting my neighbors who are Muslims. It was Thanksgiving week, and it seemed natural to invite them over at such a special holiday time.

turkey dinnerMy wife, who is now in heaven, always did the cooking in our house, so the prospect of preparing a full meal was way over my pay grade. But I know Costco roasted chickens are reliable, so I went for two of those. I managed decent mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, plus rolls. Purchased a pumpkin pie and whipped cream. So they came over Saturday night after Thanksgiving.

I had prayed to God that we could have a meaningful conversation as friends. Some of my fellow Christians had reported that as they welcomed visitors of other faiths, they shared the story of the 10 lepers whom Jesus healed – only one of the 10 returned to give thanks, you recall. This provides a timeless lesson on the importance of gratitude.

So I shared: “At Thanksgiving time, we seek to be especially grateful for the many blessings we enjoy in this country. Jesus once healed 10 men of their leprosy, but only one returned to thank Him.”  This led to clarification of what leprosy is, and agreement that thankfulness is important in both the Bible and Qur’an.

My friend and his wife lingered at the table, while their children went to the living room to play. Touching on the Bible story prompted other questions from my friend. He asked what Christians do to live out their faith other than church on Sundays – “Is that all you do?” he wondered, citing the five daily prayers of Muslims.  I replied that I meet with God every morning, reading from the Bible, and praying not only then but many times throughout the day. I talked of doing works of service to help others, and living with integrity.

Then he asked if it was true that a Christian is forgiven for every sin no matter what he does. He clarified that as a Muslim he prays every night and confesses every sin he committed during the day so that if he dies in the night he will still go to heaven.  I shared that Christians place their faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of all our sins – past, present, and future. This is based not on mere wishful-thinking but on the truth declared in the Bible that Jesus took on himself the sin of all humanity and paid the penalty for it all. I shared that God looks on our heart, seeing our belief in Christ, and extending grace continually to forgive our sins. I talked about how we confess our sins and are restored to our intimate relationship with God.

Our conversation flowed very naturally, in mutual respect. I was very thankful that God directed the meal and our talks. Our friendship deepened, I believe.

Then it was time for pie.


photo credit: flickr creative commons

You may enjoy these simple tips for making friends.


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When art crossed cultures

Here is a continuation of my former post about the lady who invited her Muslim workmate over for dinner. (Details of these events have been altered.)


“About a month after their dinner together, Julie and John invited Ahmed and Nabila to attend a new exhibit coming to The Museum of Biblical Art, not far from their homes.

 art gallery“Their invitation was accepted, and together they strolled through the museum, stopping to study each painting, sculpture and other art pieces.  The theme of this particular exhibit covered the entire Bible beginning with creation, depicted events of the Old Testament, and went on through the New Testament ending with Revelation.  As Muslims, Ahmed and Nabila were knowledgeable about the Old Testament, and were especially taken by a particularly intricate art piece, spending long moments studying it; even taking pictures.

“It wasn’t long before Ahmed began asking questions about John and Julie’s belief.  He said that one of his coworkers is Catholic, “How does your belief compare to that?”  Julie explained that while the Catholics believe the Pope is next to God, followers of Jesus have the assurance they can go directly to God in prayer.  “There is no one next to God except for His Son Jesus Christ.  I am a sinner, but because God sent His Son Jesus Christ to become the sacrifice for my sins, I am totally cleansed from my sins and can pray freely and directly to God.”

“Nabila listened carefully; then suddenly rushed to Julie throwing her arms around her and hugged her tightly saying, “Oh Julie, I can tell that this is deeply meaningful to you.”  Nabila continued to hold onto Julie for a while as Julie said, “It is deeply meaningful, and I am so grateful that Jesus cleansed me from my sins.”

“It so happened that the artists for several of the art pieces were in attendance at the exhibit, and available to talk with visitors about their work.  While Nabila, Julie and John moved on to other exhibits, the artist arrived who had created the intricate art piece that had so captured Ahmed and Nabila.  Ahmed had many more questions for him, and the artist graciously spent one-on-one time with him explaining more about his piece and the true events in the Bible.

“The time finally came to leave the museum and both Ahmed and Nabila exclaimed what a wonderful afternoon they had experienced.

“That night Julie mentioned to John, ‘When God has a plan, never underestimate how He can use even a piece of art.’

(Photo credit: rider.edu)

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Walk to the park

A young couple with kids lives intentionally in an urban black community. One day they were heading to the local park for a walk. A child from a house next door asked, “Can I go with you to the park”?

“If your mother and dad tell us you can go.”

The child took off running to get permission.

In the time it took for her to return, 11 kids with at least one parent showed up to join in.

It was quite a walk to the park that day.

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Camping plan with my Muslim friend

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every Christian had a Muslim friend. That would mean that every Muslim would have a Christian friend.

Imagine how radical that could be if it spread throughout the entire world. The suspicion between groups would be reduced. We would find ourselves saying, “Well, actually, what you my brother are saying is not true, because I have a Muslim friend and he doesn’t have that hate in his heart. He is committed to his religion, but basically wants to live it, share it, and provide a better life for his family.”

I have been developing a friendship for the last couple of years with a Muslim family in my neighborhood. It is so cool that his kids come running when I come to their door, “Bob”!

A few years back I was given an aging tent trailer that needed work. I got it put together and have enjoyed some outings with it. Hussein, my friend, showed curiosity over the trailer, wondering what it was like when opened up. We exchanged wishes that we could go camping together sometime. I pondered this idea, wondering how we could pull this off. Long story short, on an impulse I decided to take a couple vacation days and camp at a nearby camp site. It is near enough to my neighborhood that I figured Hussein could drop by and check it out, even sleeping overnight if he wanted to.

campoutHere is a daytime picture of our site. I was disappointed that Hussein and his son Ali only came by one evening around 9pm (I was tired and actually heading toward bed). But we sat by the fire for awhile; then he wanted to see the inside of the trailer. He was fascinated by the amount of space inside, and the little gas stove.

What’s the point of this post? Friendship takes work, and flexibility. Friendship is worth it, and may mean more than appears on the surface. So that’s my latest #NearFrontiersTREK. Pray for a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist friend. Live the joy of Jesus before him, and leave the results to God.

Recently a buddy told me of a Jesus follower who was talking to a Muslim about religion. The Muslim asked the Christian if he had ever studied Mohammed. The Christian replied, “Well, years ago I encountered Jesus. I have been so fascinated with Jesus ever since that I have never felt the need to study anyone else.”

Let you light shine, whether your plans work out or not. God has a plan. Jesus is compelling. Let Him show.

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