“I have no American friends.”

They know it who’ve evangelized a lot in cross-cultural and international settings: Americans have an advantage in evangelism toward people who are not Americans. Why is that so? Then, why am I in an American church? How can we boost evangelism fully using the advantage?

The general American advantage comes from many things that they have. English may be the biggest thing. As it is in the US as they are playing a home game, they absolutely have a great advantage—whether they agree or not, they are the host of the society. It is a little bit different when it is out of the country. Most of people in the world view the US as the leading country of the world and so the view is reflected in their attitude toward Americans. These are merely some of multitude of reasons. For many reasons, most of non-Americans want to make friends with Americans; therefore, it is a lot easier for Americans to make new friends with non-Americans than for them to do among themselves. This is the advantage that Americans can take advantage of in evangelism.

The advantage, however, does not mean that many of internationals have American friends. For example, my sisters who have been living over 20 years in the US, one in New York and the other in Los Angeles, never had close personal American family friends except some coworkers. They have not been invited to warm dinners at American friends’ homes yet; neither have they invited any American family to their home. Why? Because they don’t have such American friends. Is 20 years too short? A Korean friend, who has been living in Atlanta over 30 years, told me this: “I wanted to make American friends; but I don’t have any so far.” Are they lepers? No. Are they any freaks? No. They are as normal as I am.

I have heard many Americans, even religious people, make excuses like cultural barrier, language barrier, ‘I don’t like spicy food’, ‘I have fear to let strangers come in my house’, and so on. This is the point where the general American advantage becomes a special advantage of American Christians’, who won’t make such excuses but will take full use of the advantage. Even if it is not really pleasant to hear, it is a good news for us.    

Why am I, a non-American, here, then? Ironically, it is because I am not an inborn American. Even if I don’t have the American privilege, I am one who knows some significant things about international evangelism that Americans don’t know naturally. The American advantage is an example. One other example is how to take full advantage of it in our evangelism. They have it and they have to know how to use it. And I can help them some with it. 

How can American Christians, then, boost international evangelism taking full advantage of the American privilege? Become close friends to internationals! Let me give you a vision to encourage you: Our international brothers and sisters will proudly and assuredly say to their ethnic friends, “We have American friends. They like to eat with us even if they don’t really like spicy food. They grill hamburgers and hotdogs to eat with us. Do you know the SPOON game? We play it together after dinner; our kids really like it. So, did you say you really wanted to make American friends? Come to my church and I can guarantee you will make some there very soon.”

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