Making Friends with Purpose

Updated: Jan 3

By Marina Sordi Bryant.*


"I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." Luke 16:9


The theme of this year for World Nations International is "Friends for Eternity", based on Luke 16:9. Here Jesus teaches that we should be generous with our wealth in this life to bless others and make friends which will result in friendships that endure into eternity.


Last year was difficult in many different ways but I think we can all attest that isolation was one of the worst parts of it. Being far from family, friends, celebrations and holidays together was challenging so for this year we want to extend to you the opportunity to make friends, do missions and further the kingdom of God with us.


Jesus teaches that we should be generous with our wealth in this life to bless others and make friends which will result in friendships that endure into eternity.

Being close to missionaries in the field and having been one myself for many years, I had this question asked several times: how do you make friends in the field? Or how do I make friends when I don't even know where I am? One of the things we learn when we live overseas is that there are several things we have to adapt to in order to survive a new culture where we know zero familiar faces.

So where do you start? "Know your surroundings" is my answer. Walk around the neighborhood, go to local markets, buy from local stores and talk to people. One interesting thing you will quickly learn is that you are observed AT ALL TIMES. We look different and we speak differently. For obvious reasons, locals are curious: Who are these people? What are they doing here? Can we trust them?


When I was living in the Middle East, I knew I would never be counted as one of them given I am blonde with green eyes. Add to it my Arabic was far from perfect, I just didn't look at all like them, wherever I went (especially in the more remote areas) eyes were constantly on me.

The best response to that is that we can use it to our advantage: it makes it easier to approach and get to know people. But meeting is not enough, we want friends… So how to make friends in the field?


One of the things we learn when we live overseas is that there are several things we have to adapt to in order to survive a new culture where we know zero familiar faces.

Here are some steps I recommend:

Pray

Prayer is the foundation of life. It doesn't matter what we do, we should always start with prayer. Pray for open doors, pray for the people you will encounter during the day, pray for those who are already with open hearts so you can share the love of Christ with them. Go on prayer walks around your neighborhood, pray for the people you see while walking (even in your head, or out loud in your own language), but don't start your day without prayer.


Smile

Smiling is a powerful way to attract people. When you smile, you are showing you are open to talk. A joyful person is a magnet.

Being in another country, the locals will look at you, STARE at you all the time and it's OK, because you are as different to them as they are to you. So smile and start little conversations.


Look around for opportunities

God wants us to share His love and care with all peoples. He also wants us to make friends wherever we are. The kingdom of God is made of friends, so when we pray, He will prepare opportunities for us to meet people. Remember to smile and be courteous, and look around for opportunities.


Listen to God (and to people)

If you are praying for opportunities, God will respond. Listen to what He says. Sometimes He will show you a person at the back of the store, a person in the corner, someone who would pass you by and you wouldn't notice. It could even be a casual conversation to someone while waiting to pay for the groceries. God wants us to be connected to Him at all times. When you get to know new people, listen to them. Sometimes that's the door the Lord is opening: they are sharing their lives. Listen.


Find points of interest

Once you meet a person, find things you both like, points of interest, something in common you both have. Talk about what you like, and listen to your new friends. Learn about their lives, about their culture from their perspective, seek things to do together. Ask questions and listen to the answers carefully. Keep those things in mind for your next encounters.


Pursue the relationship

Food brings people together. Invite your new friends to a coffee/tea with you. Do this a few times, include other people (always bring someone with you, for safety). Then invite them for dinner at your place (if they haven't invited you to theirs first). Pursue a relationship with them, eat together, send messages during the week asking how they are doing, or how that issue they talked about was resolved… Engage in their lives as they open up, so they can see through your life and testimony that you are truly a disciple of Christ filled with God’s love.


When we give to missions, support our local church and partner with missionaries we are using worldly wealth to build up the kingdom of God and lift up the name of Christ.

Engaging in their lives sometimes means helping with whatever they need, physically or emotionally. You are unique and have many talents. God has given them to you, so you can care for others and make friends while demonstrating love, mercy and compassion by using everything you own to further God’s kingdom.


When we give to missions, support our local church and partner with missionaries we are using worldly wealth to build up the kingdom of God and lift up the name of Christ.

Be part of that.

Make friends today.

Go on mission trips with us.

Donate to our missionaries.

Let's use everything God has given us to reach the lost and make friends for eternity.


*Marina Sordi Bryant works with WNI in Strategic Development