How to Build a Cross-Cultural Friendship
As a young missionary cadet, your first mission will be to make contact with a foreign agent. Well, okay, not really a foreign agent, but somebody near you who comes from another culture. Why is this an important thing to do? First, it is what missionaries do—develop cross-cultural relationships with people and introduce them to Christ through lifestyle and friendship witnessing. Second, there are many people from foreign lands who feel quite lonely and isolated living here. Your friendship could be very important to them, and could make all the difference in their life.
Before you begin looking for a foreign friend, ask God to lead you to the right person—someone to whom you can minister and who you can learn many things from.
2. Meet someone
If you live in a big city, you might be able to find entire neighborhoods where immigrants from various countries have gathered. Spend time in these neighborhoods, greet people, and talk with them. You may also be able to meet immigrant kids in your school. Introduce yourself to them. Most important of all, smile! A warm smile means the same thing in every culture. Let the conversation roll. If your first contact doesn’t turn into a friendship, then meet another. Don’t worry if you feel a little uncomfortable at first. It’s that way in the beginning with all the friends you’ve ever made. The important thing is for you to make the first approach. After that, just be yourself.
3. Accept hospitality
Hospitality is a bigger part of most cultures than it is in America. It is likely that your new friend will invite you to their home. Don’t put yourself in any unsafe situations, but don‘t miss out on the chance to accept their hospitality and meet their family. It will mean a lot to them, and you will learn a lot about their culture by how they do things in their home. And don’t forget to give hospitality and invite them over, too! A little kindness goes a long way toward building friendships.
As you make room in your heart for your new friend and show them what joy in Jesus is all about, you may find opportunities to invite them to connect with Jesus and invite Him into their heart. They may even want to come to Sabbath School or Vacation Bible School with you. That invitation opportunity may not come until you have spent a long time getting to know your friend and building a trust relationship. Just be yourself, be their friend, and let the Holy Spirit do what He does best!