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Resources For Developing Cross-Cultural Friendships With Internationals

Ministering to internationals in our community is a paradox in many ways. On the one hand, loving the world that has come to us can be as simple as opening heart and home as a tangible expression of Christ’s love. Yet the closer our friendship becomes, the more clearly we observe the cultural differences that exist between us. We realize that sharing the Gospel and resulting world view and value system can at times feel like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. The International Student Ministry Handbook is a small attempt to decipher this paradox of difference. By providing you with the necessary tools to more effectively connect with international friends living in your community, you will not need to wonder if you are doing the right thing or not, nor be at a loss when differences arise. The practical insights in this handbook are the sort that can be applied in a number of contexts whenever you seek to befriend people from differing cultural backgrounds. Never succumb to the temptation of believing that “people are people, wherever you go.” Cultural differences are very real, but they do not have to be a frightening thing. Rather, by taking time to identify these differences and learn from the experiences of those who have gone before, you will be better prepared to express the love of Christ through your words and actions. May God grant you a heart courageous enough risk, and humble enough to learn.

John Eaves

May 2001

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