Although Dubai is an Arabian city on the Persian Gulf, there are still Starbucks everywhere. Within these coffee shops you find a microcosm of the city. Women—fully covered in black abaya robes and head scarfs covering every strand of hair—chatter at one table, while a mixed male and female group of Europeans with bare legs and shoulders sit at the next. Talk about a culture-clash! But no one seems to notice because diversity is all over our city.
If you look closely, you’ll find diversity in your city also. In America, I’ve met an Iranian woman in Target, a Bangladeshi at Whole Foods, and a friendly Egyptian working at LAX. We only have to open our eyes to find diversity in our own hometowns. Globalization has presented all of us with remarkable opportunities to meet people from the four corners of the world and share the good news of Jesus with them. People who know nothing of the God of the Bible are coming to a town near us. It can be our privilege to tell them about him.
There are so many ways to build friendships with internationals, who are likely craving relationship because they have left so many behind.
- Welcome a college student from China into your home for meals on weekends and holidays.
- Get your church involved in assisting Somali immigrants with their needs in that nearby apartment complex.
- Be a language partner, helping an Afghan friend learn better English.
- Take a meal to the Indian family down the street.
- Arrange a play date with your child’s East Asian friend and invite her mother over.
- Frequent a park in your neighborhood where Middle Easterners hang out and engage them in friendship.
- Invite your Eastern European friend to an evangelical church to hear the gospel preached.
It’s well documented that most international students never see the inside of an American’s house. And many immigrants move to a particular part of town and live in a micro-culture of their own, separating themselves from the surrounding culture. What missed opportunities! Building relationships across cultures is enriching and gives us a platform to speak of Jesus with our friends.
Consider the priority God places on the gospel going out to all nations. From the first pages of Scripture to the last, God reveals His overarching plan to create a multinational people for Himself from all tribes, peoples, and languages to spread His glory across the earth and enjoy Him forever. Shouldn’t God’s priority be our priority?
Of course, it can be a bit frightening to share the gospel with someone who doesn’t come from a Christian culture—someone who may not even know who Jesus is. There is so much that can be misunderstood. Our new friends may have never heard words like grace, redemption, or crucifixion. This is why it’s so important to get them reading the Bible.
Our words and arguments have no power in and of themselves. The Scriptures have the power. As Paul told Timothy, they “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Our goal must be to get people to the Scriptures.
Once you get to know your neighbor, you can give him or her the precious gift of a beautifully wrapped Bible, our Holy Book, and encourage him or her to read about Jesus in a Gospel. The Bible is also a perfect book to read during English lessons. People from Majority World countries are usually happy to talk about religion. They are honored when we share our beliefs and book with them. And asking what they believe leads easily to explaining how Christianity is different and showing them the Bible, where true Christianity is found.
The Bible transcends culture. When people read it, they see Jesus because the Scriptures bear witness about him (John 5:39). The Holy Spirit works through his word. Through the Scriptures, He opens the eyes of the blind so they see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Ugur from Turkey, Priya from India, Faisal from Pakistan, Mahmoud from Syria, Jenia from Russia, and May from China all came to believe Jesus through reading the Bible. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes who sent me has eternal life” (John 5:24). God saves former Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and more—all through the power of His word.
What is better than being part of God’s great plan of human history to create a people for Himself from every nation, tribe, and language? Next time you’re in a Starbucks and see someone who doesn’t look like you or hear someone who doesn’t sound like you, why not make a friend and, over time, bring him or her to the Bible? We can reach the world for Christ from our own backyards! “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (Rom. 10:15).
Keri Folmar and her husband, John, moved from Washington, DC, to Dubai in 2005, where John serves as senior pastor of the United Christian Church of Dubai. Keri is a Bible study writer and leader and author of the new book The Good Portion: The Doctrine of Scripture for Every Woman. She has contributed to Word-Filled Women and the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible. She and John are the parents of three engaging teenagers.