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Overcoming Fear in Cross-Cultural Friendship

"Most of us feel awkward when we are in social situations that are new and strange to us. Observing a joint communion service which brought together two ethnic groups for the first time, the leader remarked that it reminded him of a boy and girl meeting for the first time, wanting to please each other very much, but not knowing how to behave.

"People have a natural comfort zone among their own 'kind' of people. When you are among your own people, there is no need to adjust continuously or change your ways to fit in with others. Your people's behavior and responses are predictable. This preference for one's own social grouping is a natural thing. It is morally neutral. But beware! There is a very narrow line between this natural preference and prejudice.

"Prejudice takes cultural preference one step further. It passes judgment on other cultures and says, 'My ways are better.' And prejudice is sin, for it idolizes what is only human and it looks with disdain upon other humans who bear the image of God."

"It will help if we face our fears openly and discuss them, then we can settle it in our minds that

  1. there is nothing wrong with diversity. In fact, it is ordained by God; and
  2. we naturally prefer our own culture and fear being threatened with too much change.

Now we can begin to handle constructively the task of relating to people of other cultures." (1)

(1) Excerpted with permission from "The Stranger Who is Among You"
James Duren and Rod Wilson, William Carey Library, 1983.

How to Start

Opportunities for Cross-Cultural Ministry

Overcoming Our Fears

Working Through Cultural Differences

Celebrating Diversity


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