Thursday, December 2, 2010

Black Friday and Beyond

Metro Beat
Vol. 2, Issue 5

A Time of Discovery
Black Friday was a source of fascination for many of my international students this year. They were full of questions before the event as to when to get to the stores, how many times had I gone in the past, was I planning on going to several sales, etc. They were absolutely stunned when I told them my biggest plan this year was to stay home and miss the shopping entirely. Didn't every American go to Black Friday sales?

This experience serves to illustrate one of the most interesting challenges of ministering to people from other cultures: the battle against misconceptions. Just as we sometimes have preconceived notions as to what people from a foreign country are like or find important, so, too, do visitors to our country often have false ideas about us on their arrival here. For example, some internationals believe that the majority of Americans are Christians. We know from experience that, sadly, this is far from being the case.

A related challenge is the fact that so much of the teaching about Christianity in their home cultures is vague, at best. Even some of the believers from these other countries have had little solid teaching, resulting in huge gaps in their knowledge of the Bible and how God works in our lives. Although the teacher in me enjoys shedding light on these areas during our Bible studies, at times the task seems very daunting.

Would you pray for me as I attempt, in God's strength, to teach truth in a way that all the people I work with can understand? Language and cultural barriers can be formidable, but with God's help they can be overcome.

A Time of Giving
 One thing that seems to be extremely important to many of the people I work with, no matter the culture, is the spirit of giving. The gifts are sometimes fairly expensive, but more often they are small things, tokens of friendship that serve to brighten my day. I wish I could learn to put into practice the habitual generosity my students are teaching me. But more importantly, I pray that the gift that I do share with them, the Gospel, will be accepted for the life-changing present that it is.

As we move closer to that time of celebrating God's phenomenal gift to us in the person of His son, Jesus Christ, may we truly learn to embrace that spirit of giving by offering more of the hope we have in Him to others in the year to come. May we learn to share the love of Christ daily with a world that is desperate for the Good News.

Other Prayer Requests

Continue to pray for my father. The new medicine has helped Dad a lot with his pain, and his appetite has improved. Pray for even better days for him.

Continue to pray for my progress in Chinese. I did well on the mid-term exam, but my final is next week.

Pray that both Joyce and I would be the best possible parents to our children. With all of the craziness associated with balancing two households and maintaining a ministry, our family life often suffers.

Please continue to pray for our support needs. God continues to meet our needs in miraculous ways, but more support would definitely help ease some of the pressure on us.

May your Christmas and New Year be filled with the joy of His presence.

Yours By His Grace,

John for the Rest of the Ropers

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