So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Be a Learner
Maybe you're like me and you have a smaller circle of friends since building relationships is a slow process for you. Maybe you're not like me and you are able to build many relationships with ease but find it hard to steer those new friends toward Christ. And wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of relationship building, you probably see lots of people everyday who need to know Jesus but some barrier gets in the way of your world connecting with their world; barriers like having limited time to invest, having other ministry commitments, not sharing the same language or cultural background, etc… But if cultural and religious background is what seems to be throwing up a barrier, maybe my experience can help us all get over that hurdle.
A project I was working on required me to be studying the Christian understanding of the Bible in relationship to the Muslim understanding of our Book. I had done lots of research but the books and resources I was pulling from were just not giving me the answers I needed. I wanted to talk to a person, I wanted to be able to ask questions, I wanted to get answers and then ask more questions about those answers. A number of Muslims live in my neighborhood so I approached a man who was dressed cross-cultural garb one day and asked for help. He seemed very eager but his language skills and religious understanding were not up to the point of prolonged discussion on these matters. But he knew people who could help!
So, later that week I visited the person he recommended that I speak with and that was the beginning of my new friendship. For about 2 hours I was able to ask my questions about his understanding of the Bible and what certain Qur'anic passages mean when they talk about the Bible. After he had answered these I had more questions to ask and so the question moved forward. He was eager to talk, I was eager to ask, and in the end…he was eager to ask questions too. Instead of a debate we had a human conversation and think we both learned a lot.
In the end, neither of us changed our minds concerning religious convictions or how we viewed the Bible, but something had changes. The cultural/religious barrier that had so long "separated" us was done away with and in its place were planted the seeds of a relationship. Obviously, not all relationships can begin this way but some can. The reason I relate this story is that maybe you're like me and tend to find more reasons not to talk with people than to engage them. Being a learner helped build a bridge into someone else's life. Or maybe you're not like me and the relationship comes easy but turning the talk towards the gospel is harder. Being a learner causes you to ask questions, and questions can start conversations, and conversations can lead to good news spreading.
So, be a learner. It's not the only way to spread the name of Jesus, but it's one way.