By Bayta Schwarz
Photo by Kayleigh Harrington on Unsplash
It is a Wednesday evening and about 20 of us are gathered in a traditional German restaurant in a trendy part of Berlin. Most of us have never met before yet we are chatting like old friends. “What do you say when people ask you where you’re from?” asks Marina. We all laugh. And groan. We all dread that question, because we are living or have lived outside of the country we grew up in. Questions about home and identity are tricky.
Marina, who brought us together, grew up in Slovakia and has since lived in Belgium and Spain. My own story has taken me from Hamburg, Germany to France, Russia, and the UK. For now, our journeys intersect in Berlin. There is something incredibly special about being around people who “get” a part of your story many others do not. It creates an instant bond.
My love of engaging with people from across the globe is a huge part of who I am. Yet there is also a deeper story at play. My favourite moments come when the two connect, like they did on that Wednesday evening in a restaurant in Berlin. My identity as a child of God impacts every part of who I am, including how I view other cultures and how I engage with the challenges of living cross-culturally. As we talk about our lives as internationals, I have an opportunity to share the difference my faith makes in living through some of the same struggles others around the table experience. What a privilege!
It took me a while to realise this but these days I’m convinced that God gave me a passion for all things cross-cultural and that this is where I can make my best contribution. Not everyone loves internationals as much as I do – and that’s ok! Sometimes I picture this network of lights across the city, of people following Christ each in their own context. For now at least, I’ll be with the internationals.
The next day, I find myself chatting with a friend. She tells me all about the sports team she is on- how much she cares about the people and how she gets to share her life and faith. It’s not my world at all but I marvel at the way the Lord gave each of us different passions. It is so beautiful! Musicians, families, athletes, teachers, internationals – in each sphere of life, there are people living out the unique way God created them and being a light in all those different contexts.
Which people do you connect with most easily? Are there certain things that give you an instant bond with others?
What clues has God given you about your purpose in your city?