My friends Paul and Laurel moved to the Congo a few months ago. If you’ve heard anything about the Congo in the news lately, they’re in the area of that country that has experienced an ebola outbreak recently.
Recently, they wrote about learning how to love their neighbors in that new culture. They published their thoughts on their blog in a post called “Building relationships in a new culture: Freely go and visit.”
Responding to something they read in a book, they write:
He said that for Westerners, we usually seek to build relationships by inviting people over for a set date and time. We do this a few times and feel like we’re getting to know someone. However, he explains, that in an African culture, that would be out of place for us to do as the visitor. Good to know! Instead, he says it is totally appropriate to drop in, unannounced at someone’s house to spend an undetermined amount of time with a person and their family. If it’s around a mealtime then you would just share in that meal with them. If they had other plans then they would just cancel them! This is how the author encourages Westerners to pursue relationship building in an African cultural context. It’s hard to imagine from my Western point of view because we would usually feel so put out if someone stopped by, especially at a mealtime!
They have made it a personal goal to go against their own inclinations and tendencies and to drop in on their neighbors occasionally.
Now, I realize that most of my readers do not live in Africa. But, do you know your neighbors well enough to know how to show God’s love to them? Have you ever thought that your tendencies may seem rude to your neighbors? And, what they do that seems rude to you may not seem rude to them?
Have you ever gone against your own tendencies or habits in order to show someone that you cared about them?