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Understanding the Cultures in Our State

August 2nd, 2012 at 11:01 am

This is my first dip into the BLOG pool and I am not sure where to begin, so I guess I will start with why I am doing this.  It is really simple. There is a lot of information available to us about other cultures and people groups. Often times, the media or politicians use information or misinformation for an agenda, and the voices sharing a Biblical perspective get lost.

As I work across the state of Texas, I see how this gets played out, and in the end, it is all of us – Anglo, Hispanic, African American, Vietnamese, Chinese, Sudanese, Nepalese and on and on who really lose out. I want this space to be a place where reasonable people who take the Bible seriously can share and learn and work to make our world a better place.

In the midst of that goal, I also want to be able to share about the amazing immigrant and refugee population here in our state. The Book of Acts still is happening today right now in a community near you. I hope that by sharing the  stories of these refugee groups, not only will our faith grow but our desire to be involved with people of other cultures – whether they are your neighbors, co-workers or children’s friends.

Today let me share with you about a Eritrean Church in Dallas, Gospel Light. This church started with five men who had a vision to have a Tigrinya-speaking congregation. They soon found a pastor who has led them to help in the starting of more than 20 churches around the world and to hold Christian conferences that draw participants internationally. I will share many stories about them in the days to come but today I want to tell of their newest efforts to share not only the good news but to live it out.

During the last six years, the government of Eritrea has closed all the evangelical churches and has arrested all their pastors and church leaders. The whereabouts and condition of most of these faithful Christians are unknown. Initially believers tried to have small home meetings, praying that things would improve in their newly recognized country. But when the situation only worsened, thousands of Christians fled to nearby Sudan.

Who is reaching out to help these thousands? Not some large church with a big missions budget. Not an NGO but Gospel Light, a congregation of a little more than 100 people. They have organized a medical clinic saving lives by providing basic care and are working on a school so that these Eritrean refugees can receive an education without the need to give up their faith.

It is not that Gospel Light does not have its own needs – they do.  Their Pastor once taught me a valuable lesson on what “God’s blessing” really means. And he is still teaching us that receiving God’s blessing is really about having the opportunity to serve in whatever need God gives you.

… May we all follow their example.

 

If this post interested you, you can read more in Patty Lane’s book “A Beginning Guide to Crossing Cultures: Making Friends in a Multicultural World.” Whether you are actively ministering to people of different cultural backgrounds, traveling to other countries or just wanting to make friends across cultural lines, this engaging handbook is a perfect introduction to the journey.

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