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Closer Than You Think: Reaching Out in Your Neighborhood

Closer Than You Think: Reaching Out in Your Neighborhood

Least-reached people groups may be closer than you think: Nearly 5 million live in the United States alone! Below, a Christar worker who served for 12 years in the Middle East and now shares her faith regularly with immigrant in her own neighborhood in the U.S., offers some practical tips for reaching out to the least-reached in your neighborhood.

I fingered the Indian fabric tentatively, not wanting to attract too much attention until I was sure I wanted to buy. Some of the saris appeared gaudy to my Western eyes, with golden threads woven into bright reds and oranges. I was attracted to a simpler opaque fabric with lavender swirls.

The price was low enough that I pulled the money out of my purse. Self-consciously, I asked how to wear it. I was new to this business of turning six yards of fabric into something wearable. The Hindu woman selling the sari deftly wrapped and folded until she had transformed the cloth into a graceful dress on me. I took it off and, thanking her, carried my new sari home for some private practice.

This little shopping trip didn’t transpire in an Indian bazaar or in a Delhi store; it took place at a garage sale in Texas. While God calls many of us to go where the gospel has never been shared, He also brings the mission field to our front door. Here are six tips for reaching out to internationals in your community:

1. Be friendly, be neighborly. People from Eastern cultures are generally more relationship-oriented than many North Americans. Most will welcome and respond to your offer of friendship.

2. Learn about their culture and religion. Ask sincere questions about what they believe. Listen and learn from their answers.

3. Look for ways to be a genuine help. While Westerners often take pride in self-sufficiency, your Asian friends are probably more accustomed to an interdependent culture and might welcome your offer of help communicating with others, getting to the doctor or shopping in a new environment.

4. Offer to pray with your friends about their needs. Most will gratefully accept your offer. Pray in Jesus’ name, and don’t forget to ask later how God answered.

5. When appropriate, share your testimony with your friends, using simple English. Tell them how God has forgiven your sins and changed your life, because Jesus’ death on the cross has made you acceptable to God. Let your new friends ask questions. Answer them from God’s Word. The Holy Spirit can use the Word and the evidence of Christ’s love in your life to reach even resistant people.

6. Pray regularly for your friends. You have the responsibility to be a faithful messenger, but only the Holy Spirit can change hearts.

  • Pray for opportunities to reach out and share life with those who may have never heard the good news.
  • Ask for grace and humility as you encounter cultures that are unfamiliar and different.

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