Crosscultural friendships are not always easy. But they are worth cultivating. Here are a few reasons why…
- Crosscultural friendship provides perspective.
After eleven years involved in crosscultural ministry and seven years in a crosscultural marriage, I joke that I now have “double vision”—I see things the way I see them AND the way someone else (be it my friend or my husband) would see them. This is helpful when you want to consider all sides of a situation and make a wise choice.
- Crosscultural friendship increases empathy.
One of the side benefits of developing the “double vision” I described in reason #1 is that it increases your empathy for those who are different from you. This is such a key skill for all relationships (whether crosscultural or within the same culture) and is one of the most important thing to have as someone who works in ministry.
- Crosscultural friendship reveals blind spots.
Going deeper with people who are different will inevitably lead to moments when you think, “I have never considered it that way…have I missed this my whole life?” For example, my friendships with Africans have changed the priority that prayer has in my life, changed the way I see the spiritual realm as being interwoven with all of life rather than existing on a different plane, and changed the importance I give to being involved in family members’ lives. I am so thankful that things I have never considered before are brought to light by my conversations with crosscultural friends.
- Crosscultural friendship broadens horizons.
Befriending someone who is from a very different background broadens your understanding of the world, making you a more well-rounded, more informed person. Without traveling yourself or using your passport or buying a plane ticket, you can get to know another part of the world by getting to know your friend.
- Crosscultural friendship is a taste of heaven.
Revelation 5:9 says that people from every “nation, tribe and tongue” will be with us in heaven someday. What a crosscultural celebration that will be! So why not get a taste now, inviting your crosscultural friend to learn more about Jesus or encouraging them if they already know Him. He speaks every language and can touch every heart!
This is only a partial list, of course. What reasons can you add for why crosscultural friendships are worth cultivating?