Learning to love foreigners well
People gathering together is a universal activity that translates into every culture.
And there’s nothing quite like a room full of women who gather bringing international food! The air quickly fills with smells of curry and sounds of repetitive conversations. We each have to restate words several times to comprehend what is being said through thick international accents. (Or, in my case, a thick southern accent.)
Learning to love foreigners is a process.
We don’t automatically love foreigners. Have you noticed that? Yet, scripture says, “The foreigner residing among…
10 things successful expats do
After 12 years as an expatriate in Somalia, Kenya, and primarily Djibouti, I have seen expatriates come and go, thrive and struggle, engage in the community and hunker down behind high walls. Over time I have noticed some patterns, things that thriving expats tend to do, or not do. Could be here, could be in other countries.
1. They don’t complain. Djibouti is one of the hottest, driest countries on the planet. Temperatures can soar over 120 degrees in the summer and less than six inches of rain falls per year. With 60% unemployment, poverty is rampant. Garbage has…
Help for moms during your first months abroad
I can remember our first day here in Istanbul so clearly. We were driving from the airport to our apartment and my thoughts went a little like this: "What was I thinking? I cannot raise kids here! ...Oh my word. We almost just hit that kid! Ellie (our daughter) will never go into the street, ever! I'm never going to make it here. I might as well get back on the plane." And, on and on and on the fearful thoughts went, and more and more feelings of dread overwhelmed me.
While spending a summer in Istanbul as a student, I decided that my dream, my one and only dream, would be…
10 things to know when visiting a Russian home
While living in Moscow for two years, my wife and I were fortunate to spend many evenings in the apartments and homes of dear friends. Here are some things we learned (sometimes the hard way) that really helped us look less like strangers in a strange land.
1. DO bring a snack.
Even if it’s not requested or discussed about during the invitation, it’s always nice to bring a drink or snack to any get-together. It can be anything -- drinks like juice or soda, or sweets to have with tea. A bottle of wine. A small gift from your home country. Flowers from the…
5 questions to ask yourself about business, language and church planting
1. How do you define business? Will you be totally supported by your operations or will you still receive outside funding?
If you are okay with being subsidized through outside funding and able to raise such funding, even if for an initial timeframe, this will allow for more options. One option could be to spend more time learning a language for a period while you do some business-related work. Another benefit if you started a business would be that this support could sustain a period of losses, before profitability is reached. However, if you wanted to be totally…
When belonging isn't easy
“How do you find community?”
This question has backed me right into corners sometimes. Corners where I am left dissatisfied, lonely and growing colder towards a place I'd set out to love.
We moved to Africa when I was young and I could have adapted to nearly anything at that point. When I moved back to the US for college, I sang to a different tune. I considered myself a ‘former African’. It was as if I was forced into a whole new body and existence coming back to my ‘home’ country. To cope, I buried myself in Skype conversations with people in far away places and avoiding…
Lessons learned in the European marketplace
About a year ago, I received word that I had been hired at my current job. I had been on a job search here for about four months and was delighted that God had opened this door at last.
Looking back, while the time has flown, it's been anything but easy. But this first year in the European marketplace has yielded some terrific professional, spiritual and general life lessons.
Here are the top 10 lessons I've learned during this first year of my professional career in a European workplace:
1. I can only do what I can do.…
How to pair theology and cigars in the Middle East
Allow me to introduce you to George. George* lives in one of the larger, highly unreached cities of the Middle East. He and his wife have lived in the city for a little more than a year. While George is older, he and his wife practically jumped at the opportunity to live and work abroad with the local petroleum company a year before. They come from a great evangelical church in their home country. For some time George has known the importance of sharing his faith in the workplace. He knows the importance of having a great work ethic, consistent faith-evident lifestyle, and being…
10 practical ways to reach out to Muslims during Ramadan
Beginning on June 17th, Muslims all over the world will begin a month long fast as part of Ramandan. From sun-up to sun-down, observers will abstain from food, drink and sex. Families and friends gather together at sunset to break the fast with a large meal.
Our partner, IMB, has prepared an amazing guide to help you know how to pray for Muslims during this time. Each day of the month provides specific things to pray for and background on the holiday. Furthermore, it provides 10 tips to reach out to Muslims. Whether you work in a Muslim country or live…
So, what do you do?
You embraced the call to the nations, decided you wanted to make an impact for Christ through your work, and you went. Your visa came through, you connected with a ministry in that area, and you're settling in as you juggle your job (whatever work you do) and your joy (leveraging your life in this new country for the advance of the gospel). Great!
Then one evening, you're at a dinner party in your new home country and a stranger strikes up a conversation: "So, what do you do?"
Five words suddenly feel like five hundred spotlights pointed at you as you find yourself…