He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings, (Acts 17:26 WEB)
Before we started our second furlough arrangements were made with our home office in New Jersey. The last time we had visited the headquarters of the mission was in 1980 when we were appointed as missionaries. Thus our leadership felt it was time we stopped by to reintroduce ourselves to the staff. With this in mind our second stop, after some time in California, was New Jersey. This was the land of Beth’s birth and a number of her relatives!
Beth and I were married in 1974. On the day of our wedding some of her relatives from New Jersey came to join us in the celebration. Here was my chance to renew acquaintances and discover new relatives, on my wife’s side of the family.
Borrowing a car from someone in the mission we navigated through the confusing streets of New Jersey to the house of Beth’s Aunt Ruth. Her home was a mere fifty feet from a major highway which they called a parkway. Since it was against the law to park on the parkway I was always confused by why they called it a parkway. In this small house, filled to overflowing with memories, I was introduced to close and distant relatives living in the general vicinity.
I once commented to my children that I was experienced in dealing with cross cultural marriages. Beth was a Yankee and I was a good old southern boy. Meeting her family confirmed we were definitely from different worlds.
The conversations covered a myriad of topics. At times I felt they were speaking a different language as they recalled events of their youth and the wonders of the region of their heritage. The children were a continued source of entertainment as well as a bit of anxiety as we wondered if they would knock over a valued family treasure in the crowded house.
I’m an avid believer in Manifest Destiny. If things get crowded then head west and find some breathing room. Aunt Ruth was delightful and the food delicious. The house was crowded bringing dreams of wide open spaces to mind.
Once I became accustomed to the close quarters, something I would call upon years later in Europe, I was able to learn more about Beth’s past and northern culture. Talking to Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and visitors provided a great wealth of understanding and information on the family I married.
These were great folks, loving, caring, and willing to help when and where they were able. Because of one person, Beth, we were related and a bond of friendship and care existed. I’ve seen similar relationships develop in the body of Christ.
When we understand God’s love and grace we come to Him, through Christ, to receive salvation and the promise of eternal life. But, we have eternal life with whom? It’s eternal life with God. Not only is it eternal life with God but with God’s people as well.
God’s people come from every walk of life you can imagine, some are even Yankees! People from every culture and government you can imagine will be represented in the eternal community. We will all be related through the one who shed his blood for us, Jesus Christ. Then we’ll understand the true meaning of cross cultural and the complete relationship we have in God through Jesus.