“Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'” (John 4:7, NIV).
The difference in power could not have been more striking: the Son of God and the woman with a “bad” reputation. Seemingly, Jesus had everything to offer—the woman had nothing to give. Yet, as the late theologian Daniel T. Niles pointed out, “Jesus’s opening line was not ‘this is what I have to offer you,’ but ‘I am weak and need your help.'”
Jesus understood that, if He humbled himself and asked her for help, she would be more open to receiving living water from Him. We have this same gift of living water for the various cultural communities living in our neighborhoods. Through reaching some of these communities, we have the opportunity to build bridges to nations closed to the gospel.
The key to reaching those different from us is not how dynamic a program we can design, nor how persuasive our message is. It isn’t even how much charity we can distribute. Rather, the key is if we can minister in the same spirit of humility that Jesus demonstrated. We can do this in various ways:
- Take the time to listen and learn. Duane Elmer, author of Cross-Cultural Servanthood, says that we must go beyond learning about others to learning with them and from them. Take time to learn their story.
- Both give and receive. When we only give and never receive, we may come across as charitable but prideful. Find ways that others can bless you. For example, ask people if they can teach you how to cook their native foods.
- Give in a way that promotes dignity and partnership. Discover what people perceive as their greatest needs and what assets they already have. Invite them to partner with you in the betterment of their community.
As we approach cross-cultural ministry with this spirit of humility, we will be able to impact people both in our neighborhoods and by the extension of relationship ties into some of the most unreached areas of the world.
Find more resources about reaching your neighbors at ministertothenations.com.