Several years ago, I was riding in a taxi on the north side of Istanbul. For a good portion of the ride, the driver explained to me how bad America is. It was the usual diatribe: George W. Bush is bad, war for oil, Islamaphobia, and so on. He knew I was American—my southern-accented Turkish wasn’t fooling anyone—and he was not shy in making his case against us. I thought, You know I can understand you, right? This is incredibly rude. Then, he explained that he loved American people; he just didn’t like our government. It turned out we had more in common than I thought. I also love Americans, but often don’t like our government either. I appreciated how he made a distinction between policy and people.
If you would permit me a brief moment of uncomfortable self-promotion, I’d like to make you aware of a book where my friend Drew Taylor and I make a similar distinction between policy and people. In The New People Next Door: Learning to Love our Cross-Cultural Neighbors, we put immigration and refugee policy debates aside in order to focus on how to love immigrants and refugees themselves. It is not that those policies are unimportant, but just that we are not qualified to write such a policy book. But we have been the expatriate. We lived in Turkey and were the ethnic, cultural, and religious minority there. We draw on that experience and the Scriptures to help American Christians practically love their cross-cultural neighbors here.
From the back cover:
Nearly 400 languages are spoken in the United States. You would be hard-pressed to go anywhere and not bump into someone from somewhere else. But the common thing these cross-cultural neighbors share—the common thing we all share—is that we are here together. We live and work and play in shared space. New people live next door. That makes us neighbors. And Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.
In The New People Next Door, Taylor and Burns encourage and equip you to love your cross-cultural neighbors. Cross-cultural neighbors are people who have grown up in one culture—with its own norms, languages, customs, and cultural script—but are now living in a second culture, which is different to some degree from their first culture. Asking if foreigners are truly our neighbors is asking the wrong question. We are to love whomever God puts in front of us. Loving cross-cultural neighbors is not a new idea or a biblical add-on. Rather, it is central to the story of the Bible and, as such, should be central to our lives as well.
Find the book on Amazon.