Written by Thea Ardrey for Grace & Peace Magazine (Winter 2018):
As we stepped into a sea of strangers, I felt the awkward newness of accompanying one of our neighbors to a food pantry to pick up a box of food when her supply was running low. Trying to keep an active toddler content while we waited was no small feat for me and my husband, Ryan. We asked our son to identify everyone wearing a hat. When he pointed to the row behind us, I noticed faces from the past. The two years since we had seen Matthew were erased the moment we saw his family.
Before we moved into our neighborhood in 2014, we had decided to walk around the neighborhood, praying for the people in the homes. Our first prayer walk led us to Matthew’s doorstep. The first time we met him, we told him about God’s call for us to move into the community and plant a church that would initially meet in our home. Though he did not really know us, he said, “You’re going to do well.”
Planting seeds of the gospel in a culture different from our own has proven difficult at times, but we have also experienced grace and opportunities to learn. We haven’t always done “well,” but we’ve learned ways to more effectively cultivate relationships with people whose stories and cultures differ from ours.
Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned:
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