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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

A few Saturday evenings ago, I had to pick my husband up from the airport here in Sydney.  When I arrived, I discovered he had a gentleman with him who wanted a lift.  Apparently this man lived in an outlying suburb, but was content to be dropped at a station not far from us, so that he could catch a train home from there. I noticed the enormous amount of luggage this gentleman had, however, and briefly wondered how he would manage on the train later.

We had not gone far before our new friend said he would actually like to be driven all the way home!  We hesitated, but he then offered to pay us twenty dollars if we would do so!  We had to make up our minds quickly, since taking him right home would involve heading through the M5 tunnel rather than driving home via our usual route.  My husband and I glanced ruefully at each other – we were tired and hungry and just wanted to get home.  But what could we do?  This man would not take kindly, I felt, to being turned down.  After all, he was big and burly, and was wearing a jumper that had ‘Security Guard’ printed on it in bold letters!

So we acquiesced – and then proceeded to try to chat with him, a task that was made quite difficult, owing to his rather poor grasp of the English language.  He tried hard, however.  I smiled at how much he talked about pleasing God and praising him, after he discovered my husband is a church pastor!  But I listened carefully when he began to talk about his own Pacific culture, which he told us was ‘one big family’ where everyone helps everyone else.

After that, I was determined not to take a cent of the twenty dollars he had promised us.  What kind of impression would it give him about the ‘family of God’ if we weren’t prepared to help him out as his own community would?  We eventually pulled up outside his home, where he obviously wanted us to be quiet, since he was going to surprise his wife and children.  He had been away from them for six months, working in another city.  And when he did try to give us the twenty dollars, my husband refused it, telling him we just wanted to bless him.

Had we been ‘set up’, I wondered?  And shouldn’t this man have been up front with us in the first place?  But then it occurred to me that probably he had acted just as his culture dictated – a culture in which the ‘rules of engagement’ were understood by everyone.  In his books, there was probably nothing unusual in what he had asked of us and how he had gone about it – that was what you did for people.  So I couldn’t help feeling ashamed at my reluctance to help.  And after all, what had it cost us?  Just a bit of a detour and a few extra dollars.

Well, what would Jesus have done?  I think he would have taken the man home without hesitation, don’t you?  I think he would have gone the second – or the third – or the fourth mile, just to show that man what God’s grace is like.  I think he would have been more ‘pro-active’ himself in talking about God, instead of judging what this man said.  And I think he would have prayed for this man, for a wonderful time with his family.  How do I know this?  Because that’s how he treats me on a daily basis – and you – with such patience, grace and love!

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