One of the things I love about working with YWAM is that in any given week you meet lots of different cultures and nationalities, and that God is always wanting me to learn from these differences.

So, on Tuesday evening I spent a lot of time talking with two women ­ one born and raised in Nigeria, the other born and raised in India. Getting a picture of life in these two different countries was fascinating and eye-opening.

In my communications role, I work in an office with a fellow Englishman and a Brazilian. While we English attempt to help our Brazilian to be better at time-keeping (not always easy!), improve his English (we’re making progress there) and to understand the rules of cricket (impossible!), he teaches us to be freer with our emotions and expression (still a bit stilted at times!) and have a more flexible attitude towards life (some movement there!). It’s a real place of joint learning: no one way is the right way!

Meanwhile, in my other role as leader of the worship team, I never cease to be amazed at how God brings together people from all over the world to teach us things and to help fulfil his purposes. Our team includes a South Korean, three Brazilians and two Brits. We may have different ways of doing things, different viewpoints, and different backgrounds, but God constantly challenges our worldviews through each other.

For instance, the three men in the group (a Brit, a Brazilian and a South Korean) met together earlier this week, and the topic of hot and cold climate cultures ­ and the way the two climates affect behaviour – came up. And here was my lesson for the day: never assume! As a cold-climate person, when I am invited out to someone’s for dinner or lunch, I automatically assume I should take something with me, say, a box of chocolates, a carton of orange-juice or a bottle of water. But as became clear as we talked, for hot-climate cultures, the opposite is true: when a hot-climate-person is invited out for dinner, they do not take anything with them ­ it is for the host to provide everything. In some cultures, it would be extremely offensive to turn up clutching a bottle or box.
(For more on this topic, read Sarah Lanier’s excellent book, From Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot- and Cold-Climate Cultures.)

So take time to learn from those around you ­ they have much to teach you about our God, the world, its people, and you!

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