Bridging Our Differences

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To have friends, you must show others your friendliness and openness.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly .... —Proverbs 18:24 (kjv)

A crowd is congregating outside the gates of Village Hope in Zimbabwe. Here on this little farm, over twenty orphans have found a home with Paddington and Alice, a couple who God partnered us with several years earlier. As we help prepare a community-wide meal, I find myself wishing that we could see one another as one people. Do our differences make this impossible, God?

Among those who’ve walked miles over mountain paths to get here is a barefoot girl who seems lost in the crowd. She finds a place to sit on a rock wall. I move toward her, but she recoils, tears filling her eyes. She’s terrified by my white face. To these children, I might as well be an alien.

My family is stirring sadza in steel barrels over a fire and setting out plates, cups, steaming vats of tea, and baskets of bread. We’re doing our best to act on Jesus’ words “I was hungry,” but the separation lingers.

Now, my granddaughter Abby has spotted the little girl. She goes over and quietly sits beside her on the wall, keeping a bit of distance as the girl stares straight ahead. When I glance back a few minutes later, I see that Abby has edged closer. Is that giggling I hear?

After the adults are served, the children form a long line. Now Abby and her new friend are holding hands. Later, as women begin popping up to sing and dance in thanksgiving for the food, I smile, seeing that Abby and the little girl are dancing too.

Too soon, the day ends. The girl runs to Abby and gives her a hug before following her grandmother home. Later, I tell Abby how proud I am of her. “You seemed like best friends. What did you talk about?”

“Oh, Mimi,” Abby says, “we couldn’t talk. She only speaks Shona and I only speak English, so we just laughed and danced and played!”

Father, help me bridge the differences that divide us from one another simply and honestly, by “showing myself friendly.”

Written by Pam Kidd

Digging Deeper: Job 2:11;Ps 119:63

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