“They are not going to come to you. You will have to find ways to seek them out and get to know them”. This advice came to us from a diaspora ministry leader as we were moving into our new work with the INN. I’ll admit that I took this counsel with slight skepticism.
We had served cross-culturally already, and meeting people had not been so difficult. As Americans we were a bit of a novelty there. But after less than a year into diaspora ministry —the admonition is valid. So how do you initiate contact with strangers and establish friendships? Here is one way that I have discovered.
Setting out to establish a place to connect, I began to teach a class called “Intercultural Connections”. The class is a place for participants to learn to understand and work more effectively with people from other cultures. It is for immigrants and refugees who want help understanding how to live in the US and it's also for Americans who want to learn how to better relate to people from other countries.
Half of our participants are diaspora and the other half are Americans. Everyone participates in lively discussion about the joys and sometimes confusing encounters we have all experienced in this multicultural world.
Ah-ha moments are common as misconceptions are corrected and intercultural friendships take root. The connections I am making through the class are allowing me to go deeper into the community God brought me to serve.