“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31).

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

5 Practical Ways to Love your International Neighbor

We all know that the Lord calls us to love our neighbors. And for most of us, we know what that looks like when our neighbor is a fellow American. But sometimes it’s hard to know how to start when our neighbor is from a different country. Since February is the month of love, we asked our international team members to share the 5 best ways you can love your international neighbors this month.

  1. Learn about their culture, country of origin and language

This is a great place to start and gain common ground. It will also help you to show respect and potentially avoid some cultural problems!

For example,  for Americans, it is often considered normal to enter a house with shoes on. But in Japan and many other Asian countries, this is a huge no-no. If you are not sure what is appropriate, ask them!

The Practical How-To
Ask where their country is located on a map, what language they speak, any cultural differences that surprised them when they moved here and their favorite interesting fact about their country.

  1. Bring them something special 

The simple act of baking cookies goes a long way and introduces them to a piece of your culture! Make them feel welcome. Most of them are leaving all they know and entering into new territory. Kindness transcends language barriers and can instantly make a connection.

The Practical How-To
Bring your favorite meal or dessert for them to enjoy in their own time. Explain why it’s your favorite!

  1. Be available.

There are going to be things that will be difficult for them to adjust to. New grocery store, new public places, new community, new lifestyles, and all in a new language! It can be really overwhelming. Being available when they ask you something will definitely help ease them into their new home.

The Practical How-To
Write down some places that they might find interesting or that they will need to know and deliver it with your phone number. Some examples are:  nearest hospital, international food market, nearest/favorite restaurants. Think of something you would have wanted to know when you first moved into your neighborhood.

  1. Invite them over 

Once you’ve met them where they are, and introduced them to what’s around them, make sure to continue the relationship by having them in your own home. In many cultures, the home is central to their lives and relationships, so this is a great way to deepen your friendship.

The Practical How-To
Invite them for a clear time and occasion, letting them know what to expect. If you’re including a meal, make sure to ask if there are any dietary restrictions. They will surely appreciate that.

  1. Invite them to community events.

Show them the many ways they can be involved in the community, from your local church to a neighborhood fair. You can also help them find a specific group for their interests or an international community where they will feel welcomed.

The Practical How-To
You already have the connections in your area. Keep your eye out for special events, and continue to include them in activities that you attend. No one likes to show up to something where they don’t know anyone, so be willing to attend with them if they ask (see tip 3!).

One of the most important ways we can show love to our international neighbor is to put ourselves in their shoes.

Imagine if you had to leave your house, culture,  and language behind, to move to a new place. How would you like to be received by locals? What information you might want them to share with you? Any must-knows of your neighborhood? Please, share it with them!

Loving the Stranger 9780692593493

If you would like to further your knowledge and learn more tips on how to love your international neighbor, you can check out the awesome resource: Loving The Stranger

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and what better way to celebrate than to learn how to say “I love you” in seventeen different languages. Find your neighbor’s language below! 

Arabic: أنا أحبك / ‘ana ‘ahbik

Bulgarian: Обичам те / Obicham te

Chinese: 我爱你 / Wǒ ài nǐ

Dutch: ik hou van je

English: I Love you

Filipino: mahal kita

Finnish: rakastan sinua

French: Je t’aime

German: ich liebe dich

Greek: Σ ‘αγαπώ / S ‘agapó

Gujarati: હું તને પ્રેમ કરું છું / Huṁ tanē prēma karuṁ chuṁ

Haitian Creole: mwen renmen ou

Hindi: मैं तुमसे प्यार करता हूँ / main tumase pyaar karata hoon

Hungarian: szeretlek

Indonesian: aku cinta kamu

Italian: Ti voglio bene or Ti amo

Japanese: 愛してる/ Aishiteru

Mandarin Chinese: 我爱你 / Wo ai ni

Russian: я люблю тебяya / lyublyu tebya

Spanish: Te quiero