A couple of months ago, just before leaving Nigeria, I had dinner with friends from church. It was a diverse group: a pastor and his wife, a doctor, a graphic designer, and 4 teachers. Some were from England, Canada, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, and America. There were some older, some younger, some married, some single, some divorced, some widowed. It was a beautiful mix of ages, nationalities, cultures, vocations, experiences, and vocabularies!
It looked a lot like the Body of Christ.
Living overseas teaches you about diversity, about culture, about people, but also about faith. As a twentysomething young woman, there wasn’t much I had in common with the middle-aged widow I shared a flat with. I couldn’t share the experiences of the teachers whose entire careers were spent overseas moving from country to country. I can’t even begin to list the differences between me and the London graphic designer who worked for an international development agency.
The thing is, when differences abound, we learn to focus on commonality. Christ was our commonality, and in sharing faith with these people, I was encouraged exponentially in my own relationship with the Lord.
From their stories and experiences, I was refreshed by the faithfulness of God. I was reminded of His enduring love that literally spans the globe. Represented in these dear friends, I saw their trials and pain and doubt and ultimately, their trust in a God who is in control.
Groups like my friends in Nigeria aren’t as easy to come by in America, but the lessons they taught me are still available. Don’t be afraid of befriending those whose background is different from yours. Seek them out in your church congregation. Find someone with more life experience you can learn from. Find someone younger and support her and be a role model. Differences in age, experience and nationality will teach you about life, yes, but also about the incredible God we have in common.