Cross-Cultural Missions: Little Acts Go a Long Way

three women gathering for breakfast

“They must’ve worked a retail job before.”

One of my coworkers said that the other night as a customer walked out of our coffeehouse. The man had handled a less than ideal situation with such grace and a keen understanding that my friend knew he must’ve been on the other side of the equation before. He must’ve known what it was like to be in our shoes.           

It’s amazing what a little understanding will do.           

Bend over Backward

I felt this coming back from the Middle East, after having lived as a stranger in a country so different from my own. I couldn’t speak the language. I didn’t know the customs. I didn’t have a clue how to live there.

But what I did know was how much it meant to me when someone bent over backward to reach out to me. That person had my gratitude, my ear, and my friendship.

Little acts went a long way. Inviting me into his or her home went even further.           

And when I came back to the States, I saw people from the country I’d just left. And I remembered—little acts go a long, long way.

Share Your Very Self

On one of my Middle Eastern friends’ birthday, we invited her into one of my friend’s homes for a real American birthday party. We made pizza. We had cake. We laughed a lot.           

And we had her ear. We had her friendship.           

Like Paul, we wanted to share our very selves with her (1 Thess. 2:8).           

It’s not always easy. Sometimes we can’t communicate well. Sometimes we misunderstand each other. Sometimes their culture is so very unlike ours. Sometimes the friendships require a lot of patience.           

But people did it for me, and I remember. It meant the world.           

And I want to offer the same hospitality.

Offer Jesus  

But not just that—I want to offer Jesus in a way they can grab hold of, to show them Someone with a love that makes sense in a world of chaos, a world where they are strangers and aliens, a world where almost never does anyone show them that they are valued, loved, prized, pursued.           

It’s not easy. It takes a lot of commitment. It takes a lot of time.           

But why wouldn’t we?           

After all, Someone once stepped out for us.

Grace Thornton is a writer who lived in England and the Middle East and traveled extensively into different contexts to meet people and tell the stories of what God is doing in their lives. She is the author of Unshakable Pursuit: Chasing the God Who Chases Us.


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