When I took the Kairos course I was already quite involved in my local church and in my local church’s mission program, so I didn’t think much would change in my own life. In fact, I really didn’t take the course to impact me at all. I took it thinking it would make me more effective in impacting others for Christ. In the end it did that, but it also had many (from my viewpoint) unintended and positive personal impacts. Not least of which was the time I was prompted to pray about my own personal involvement in day-to-day cross-cultural evangelism.
As Christ-followers, we already know that God is real and that God really loves us. Something the Kairos course drills into you is that God is also doing something right now – something He made each of us to have a part in. That is His mission. But being involved in a local church and being part of the mission committee, I figured I was already doing all I could do – certainly all He would ask of me, right? I had even gone on a number of short-term trips. Yet as I integrated the Kairos material into my life, I was challenged to think about God’s mission as central to all I do instead of an auxiliary activity that I engaged in from time to time as I found opportunity. After all, if it was central to what my Lord is doing right now, shouldn’t it be central to my own life too?
So, I prayed this very dangerous prayer. I call it that because in real life, God is actually exceedingly passionate about His mission – so much so that He tends to answer this prayer in a profound way. At least, that was my experience. I remember calling out to Him in one of my morning devotions, “Lord, if you want me to make Your mission core to who I am, then I need a cross-cultural friendship with a non-believer.”
Even as I prayed that I thought there was no way that was going to work. I was far too busy for such a friendship. Another mission project maybe, but not a friendship. Friendships don’t have two-week limitations! Yet later that same week a friend of mine in downtown Toronto called me. Some refugees had arrived a few weeks earlier. He was working with them there in the downtown core, but one family was going to move and settle in my suburb (just west of Toronto). And as I held the phone up to my ear, he told me how he was working with many and wouldn’t have time to drive out to help them too – and then he asked the question, “Will you befriend them and help them integrate into Canadian society?”
I prayed for grace before answering, because I truly felt I had no time in my life for this. But what could I say? I had asked God for a cross-cultural friendship with a non-believer so that I could live out His mission, and He was obviously answering that prayer in a blunt ask of me.
So I agreed.
The next morning I asked the Lord – who once held back the sun for Joshua – to somehow make space in my life for this. Later that week I found myself sitting on the floor of an apartment just 2km from my home, eating a strange but delightful meal with folks who couldn’t speak English any better than I could speak Arabic. We spent 3 hours together that night. It is amazing how much you can communicate between charades and Google Translate.
Over the next two years, that family and mine formed a close friendship. We had opportunity to speak to them about Easter, about Christmas, about Christ and His sacrifice for all of us. And in the end, God did find a way for me to make space for that friendship in my hectic schedule. We’ve been blessed by that friendship. It is a dangerous prayer to ask God for a cross-cultural friendship instead of just doing cross-cultural projects. Perhaps mostly because God will surely challenge your own heart in answer that prayer. But let me encourage you to pray it anyway. For not only is our Lord worthy of the praise of all peoples, but He made us to be part of what He is doing. Consequently, you can know you will be blessed as you step forward in faith when He answers that prayer.