New friends from 3 different continents
Libyans from Africa. Saudi Arabians from the Middle East. Italians from Europe. Taiwanese from Asia. The world was gathered in our home. And I am so thankful to be a part of it. I met Jesus in it.
As a follow-up to my recent conviction about being moved by the Spirit, I put aside my typical weekly agenda to get ready for a Christmas party for our housemate’s international friends. Amazingly, I didn’t do too much yelling at my children beforehand (they even helped with set-up and we shared a wonderful prayer time for it together in the afternoon!- thanks to the Spirit’s work) and we had a wonderful time with everyone. We utilized three key universal languages-food, music, and children. After our meal together, it was pretty amazing to have Muslims gathered around singing songs about Christ, the Savior,’s birth. The Gospel conversations we were able to engage in with each person were even better. Instead of an “untouchable topic” like it is with many Americans, all the international students were eager to discuss differing views, sharing theirs and asking questions about others. We pray that the doors of hearts have begun to creak open through it all.
I was equally amazed at how eager each person was to interact and play with our kids. Some of them said they are always at the university and don’t see very many children. DJ got to have plastic sword fights with Valentina from Italy, and play iphone video games with “Derick” from Taiwan. Trinity played musical instruments with her new best friend, Winnie, from Taiwan. Katy-Grace played “come and get me!!” with Anece from Saudi Arabia. Benjamin befriended Monique , an 8 month old from Libya, whose parents are studying here.
We, including our children, are far richer for having hosted this party. We are challenged and grown as we hear first-hand how one’s religion affects their goals, their lives, and their culture. My children are now talking about flying to the different countries to visit their friends (I showed them on a map where each one lived–how’s that for a built-in homeschool lesson?? Geography 101 based on friends from around the world)
One part of the evening saddened me….When asked if they had made any American friends or been to an American’s home, each person said “no”. These new friends of ours have been here anywhere from 7 mo. to 2 1/2 years. Their most frequent interactions with Americans is with their English teacher in class. I asked Ibraham from Saudi Arabia if they preferred just spending time with other internationals or if they wished they could have relationships with Americans. He said “No, we wish we could know Americans. We are here to learn the language and the culture, but the American students are busy with their studies and their lives and we don’t know how to become friends with them.” The nations are 10 minutes away and we are too busy to reach out to them, befriend them, and share the Light of the Gospel with them.
Through these new friends, I have been so convicted…
To truly be a follower of Christ, he said we must obey his words.
This includes “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19) The “going” to “all nations” has become so easy for us. We don’t even have to buy a plane ticket.
They are right here.