The answer to this question depends on many factors, including your family members’ ages, interests, and schedules. For example, on one hand, young children are flexible: they can be brought along in almost any activity two spouses do. On the other hand, young children require more logistical help and attention wherever they are, and as such can detract from what two spouses are doing.
Ideally a family engages in a welcoming ministry together. Local internationals come from cultures that highly value family, and they are interested in understanding how American families function. Some internationals have come to know Christ in part by watching Christian families interact, particularly husbands and wives.
Start by engaging together in activities of exposure. Go to local cross-cultural festivals (such as Chinese New Year). Eat at cross-cultural restaurants. Attend a local class on Islam at a mosque. Gauge how open your family is to wading in deeper to welcoming. In this process, get to know potential cross-cultural friends.
Next, begin bringing cross-cultural people in to what your family already does naturally. Invite them over for a meal. Go to a park together for a picnic. Go to a baseball game together. Develop natural relationships.
Finally, if your family does well at these levels, proceed to more proactive cross-cultural ministry. Help a refugee family move into an apartment, or teach them to shop at the local store. Some families rent or give a room to a local international student.
Through experimenting, determine what level best fits your family’s life stage and abilities.
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