God knows the heart of your friend and the world that has shaped them.  
The question is, how often do you and God talk about your friend?
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one life      

Knowing about another culture is an important part of the tentmaker's cultural intelligence.  But what about being able to interact with others in another culture in a way that touches their hearts?  That's the active, personal element of mission, the practical application of cultural intelligence. 

It's not a routine you learn; there's no seven steps to success or a book you need to buy. It's the person you are that others are drawn to--your kindness, patience, sympathy, forgiveness, conviction, dedication.  No matter how much you know about another person's world, it's the evidence of what God is doing in your life that is witness to what God can do in theirs.  He is the One who is most successful in making mission a cross-cultural experience.

In this issue of CALLED, you're invited to consider how simply that happens in real life, between real people, when God is working within and without. 



You have to be an artist to know how I felt as I proudly announced to Mohammad and his brothers and their families that I had completed a portrait of their father.  The family stood politely around the painting, expressing their surprise at my gift. 

But, as they studied the canvas, I noticed a reserve that I hadn’t expected.  Something was missing in their response, but I couldn’t determine what it was.
Later that day, when we were alone, I asked Mohammad if the gift was appropriate, if it was well received. He expressed deep appreciation. But he hesitated, as if not wanting to hurt my feelings.


I remember the first time Mohammad invited me to his home.  Everything about the morning was rural Arab.  I met his father, a shepherd.  I learned Mohammad had six older brothers, all married.  We sat down to a mid-morning meal fresh from their family garden, livestock, and kitchen--an impressive spread of cheese, cream, tomatoes, cucumbers, olive, omelets, fresh bread, and fig jam. We enjoyed a lively conversation that lasted far beyond the time it usually takes me to eat breakfast.
That’s how my friendship with Mohammad was born.  MORE



Character is power.
The silent witness of a
 true, unselfish, godly life
carries an almost irresistible influence.
By revealing in our own life
the character of Christ
we co-operate with Him in the work of saving souls.

Ellen White in Christ's Object Lessons, page 340



Both were born and raised in my host country. 
Both are well-educated.  Both speak English easily.
Even though they come from the same culture, they are very different.  
Their perspective isn't the same, and I don't relate to them the same.


One day I realized that I speak more slowly, use more local expressions, choose a different vocabulary when I’m with Zahar. Her upbringing was more conservative; her faith and social views reflect that. I even dress more like her when we’re planning to do something together. 
I don’t talk about the same things with her as I would with Alitha, my other friend, who’s had exposure to different worldviews and is more open to new ideas.  I use many more western expressions or references with Alitha, even though she is also thoroughly representative of her culture. I have to chuckle at myself; maybe she's just better at adapting to me!  But really, I relate to them each differently because they are both valuable to me.  --Sara


Sara is a third-culture kid (TCK) with a background that has given her a cross-cultural way of thinking--the successful tentmaker’s mindset.  A visit with her helps illustrate what that actually looks like in real life--how she sees herself and how it affects how she relates to others.

Sara, it seems you relate easily to other cultures. How did you learn to adapt so naturally? 

I know I've learned to observe a lot.  I listen.  Especially when I’m in a new place.  I try to put together where a person is coming from.  Do they reflect the larger group, or is this something unique to them?  Their perspective may not be representative  of their culture. I try not to generalize too early.
Sometimes I’m intentional about adjusting to what’s around me; sometimes I do it more organically--without even thinking.  I’ve had my friends point out to me that I change accents all the time, and I don’t even realize it.  But I don't think I can take that much credit.  It’s the life my parents gave me; I grew up outside our home country and have mixed with other cultures all my life.

So does a tentmaker have to grow up in another culture to gain that intuitive ability?
It's interesting for me to watch my own experience.  As a child I mostly grew up inside my family’s world and I didn’t have to relate much to those around me. When I went back to the same country as an adult, I realized I had never learned some of the basics of their world!  But I found it powerful to immerse myself into their culture--not to be afraid of becoming "part of the family," to accept them as my sisters and brothers.  It not only has created beautiful relationships, but it has helped me grow.

What advice can you give us for communicating effectively with friends from another culture?

Get out of your turf and onto others’ turf!  A practical way of doing that is to try to understand the meaning of what they say.  They may use the same word you use, but it may have a different meaning to them.   MORE

I always want to be ready to apologize. . . .
Humility is not an ethnic trait,
it is Christ’s trait.


One day I was talking to a non-Christian friend about the second coming of Jesus.  He seemed interested.  I wished he had a Bible.  But of course, even if it were legal in his country, any Bible would be big and intimidating.  It’s not all that simple for some to relate to.

So I photocopied a page from the Bible--in his language, of course--and highlighted the verses in Matthew we'd talked about.  It was that simple.  The next time we were visiting, I referred to our earlier conversation and showed him the photocopy.  He was visibly pleased; it was simple, short, easy to read.  He was moved.  He not only was able to read the Bible without embarrassment, but he received God’s Word without having to carry a big Christian book around.  

It's a simple method: Copy a psalm, a parable, a proverb, a story. There’s a lot of conviction-power in an inconspicuous piece of paper that can be folded up and tucked in a pocket.
One day, while visiting with a Christian friend about sharing God’s Word this way, a Middle Eastern woman came and sat next to us.  Busy with our conversation, I had placed a photocopy of Genesis 1 and 2 on the seat next to me. The woman, wanting to make a place for herself, picked it up to move it.  She stopped and looked at it first though. After reading for several minutes, she was visibly stunned and interrupted our conversation.  “This is amazing!  What is this?”  she politely asked.  MORE
Adapted from "Simple and Important" appearing on Gotential, a site for inspiring and training tentmakers.
The highest cultural intelligence is realizing
how little you know
about another person's world, 
but how much God can do.

      reaching over

We were just trying to buy a table online for our new apartment—a very ordinary step in everyday life.  Our Arabic friend advised us not to do it; he seemed to know that it wouldn’t come in the condition we expected.  He was sure the company would never replace it.  We bought it anyway and quickly learned he was right. It arrived in terrible condition.  We didn’t know what to do. 
Intercultural mission in our region is one of the greatest challenges we’ve ever faced. We are constantly reminded of how unprepared we are.  At the same time, I’ve had the privilege of studying the culture around us--a classroom experience, of course, but practical too.  I’ve been given tools that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, have really helped me. This process of learning, in addition to the experience of applying what I've studied, has been a blessing in our work here.  
With all this in mind, my wife and I talked about all the things we’ve learned--the shame and honor that moves those around us, the emotional dynamic in every exchange, the importance of our relationships, the difference that language makes.  We could recognize how much of what I’d read and studied could be applied to our experience.
Finally, instead of complaining or fighting for a refund or better service, my wife wrote to the company saying how disappointed she was; they had broken the trust she had placed in them.  She appealed to their heart.  She said she wanted a good relationship with them so she could recommend them to others.
Within the week, a new table arrived in our home. Our Arab friends were surprised. Our broken table became a bridge, a witness, even as we related our experience to them.  Once again we saw the blessing of trying to understand the people around us.  We all need both knowledge and experience so we can become better tools in the hands of God as we build bridges and live the gospel before those around us.   --CW

Adapted from Mission & Ministry, a quarterly e-bulletin of the Adventist Islamic Studies Center, Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon.
CALLED Fourth Quarter 2017
Copyright © 2017 MENA Total Employment, All rights reserved.

“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate My righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you, . . . and you will be a light to guide the nations.
Isaiah 42:6

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