During the two summers I spent in China, I picked up a little Mandarin. I quickly learned how to ask for the food I wanted, and still remember the words for “watermelon” and “ice cream.” I also learned to say “No, thank you,” as politely as possible, and can even sing Happy Birthday in Chinese!
The word we used the most, of course, was xiexie (pronounced “shay-shay”) which means “thank you.” At first the native people would simply grin wryly when I tried to say it, but once I mastered the pronunciation their faces would light up as they realized I was speaking their language.
Taking time to learn about someone else’s culture is not only a rewarding and fascinating experience, but one of the most effective ways to share the Gospel. Why would they want to hear about your thoughts and beliefs, if you haven’t first shown interest in their cultures and traditions? Once you’ve allowed them to teach you about their way of life, however, most people are thrilled to have you teach them something in return. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
My challenge for you today? Learn a new foreign word, or study the traditions of a foreign culture. Reach out to someone a little different from yourself… you’ll be glad you did.
As the A to Z Challenge draws to a close the day after tomorrow, let me take this opportunity to send a hearty xiexie – thank you – to all those who have followed these posts and traveled through the alphabet with me! What an incredible encouragement you all have been!
This post was submitted as part of the A to Z Challenge, where participants agree to post an article that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet and publish an article every day during the month of April (except Sundays).
Here at Everyday Musings, my theme for the month is Reflections from Around the World, where I’ll take a page from my personal travel journal each day and share a spiritual meditation or powerful thought that has been inspired by my travels.
For a discussion of great works of art that have gained such fame they have become The Classics, and what modern artists can learn from these works, be sure to visit my companion blog, The Artistic Christian.