Lotus in Suzhou, China (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)Finding out that a person from another culture has moved in down the street sometimes produces uncertainty. What will they expect? What kind of neighbors will they be? How will I respond if I need to interact with them? Too often, people, including Christians, keep themselves isolated from others, particularly if they are strikingly different.

One of our Chinese neighbors (we have three) has an elderly mother who comes to visit for several months at a time. She smiles and nods, and has learned a few phrases in English, but declined the English lessons I offered her – for free. She’s too old, she told her grandson. He added, “She has trouble learning anything, anyway. You should see her play video games!” Right.

So we have sat, from time-to-time, on the front porch of our place, enjoying a breeze or simple silent companionship. We have a bit of hand motions that aid general communication, but specifics are difficult to broach. The interesting thing is that, despite all the hurdles with this sweet lady, my relationship with her English-speaking adult daughter has been greatly aided by this effort.

Fear is a great immobilizer. I’m reminded of a portion of 1 John 4:18, “Perfect love casts out fear.” My love isn’t perfect, to be sure, but I can model God’s love in small ways to this family, and be open to seeing God use me in it. Getting past the fear may reap rewards.

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