It has been a while since I met someone new from Bosnia. The situation stabilized there, so we have not had any refugees from there in a number of years. However, one young woman, whose parents came to my city from Bosnia in 1997, was born here. She recently married a young man from Bosnia and sponsored him to come here.
I met him Monday evening at the college. When I found out that he doesn’t like a popular Bosnian food called Sarma, I joked with him that I did not think he was really a Bosnian because he doesn’t like Sarma. Sarma is basically a cabbage roll.
He laughed. His wife told her mother what I said and she laughed. He called his family in Bosnia and told them what I said and they laughed. It was a wonderful ice breaker to start to get to know the family.
I will be meeting with him this morning for an English lesson. I do not know where this will lead to. I do know it can lead to a friendship. I hope and pray for an opportunity to share Christ’s love with him and his family.
Humor broke the ice but it would not have been possible if I did not know a little about Bosnian culture. If I want to be able to reach a person with the love of Christ, it helps to understand where the person is coming from. A few thoughts about understanding people:
1- Listen– they are the best teachers about who they are.
2- Don’t put anyone into a box. We tend to want to keep people in a box based on prior knowledge, even if it is limited, but it can prevent us from getting to know the person.
3- Remember the person we are talking with has great value because Jesus died for them
4- Take time to learn a little about their culture if it is different from our own.
5- Be open to new experiences and learning.
6- Be Flexible. This is so important when relating with other cultures but also within your own culture.
7- Last but most important- PRAY. By praying we invite Jesus into our lives and into our efforts. By praying we are led by Jesus in relating with others.
Learning to relate to others is part of loving them so we can live out what Jesus called the second great commandment in Matthew 22:
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Thank you for reading. God Bless.