Maybe you meant to join a short term missions team this summer, but never quite got around to it. Maybe your summer schedule amidst vacations, weddings, kids’ activities and work just didn’t allow for the preparation and travel necessary to serve outside of Annapolis or Easton. Or maybe you’ve never even considered serving away from home until right this second, flipping through the pages of GO&MAKE.

In the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” and part of that is certainly going – leaving our place of comfort and familiarity. But going doesn’t always involve airplanes and passports, and the main verb here is actually to make disciples. In fact, as we look at the history of missions and the current march toward globalization, more and more people from other nations who don’t know Jesus are coming to us – to Annapolis, Washington, D.C., and the Eastern Shore.

You may already be interacting with the nations – in your workplace or school, at the mall, in your local nail salon, in your neighborhood. Or you may have to be more intentional – finding an ESL class to serve or volunteering with World Relief in Baltimore or other immigrant-centered organizations. Is it possible that God has brought the nations to your door this summer for a purpose?

If it’s possible, then what do we do with this opportunity to reach the nations here at home? There’s a simple strategy that helps us build relationships regardless of ethnicity – you can use this tool for your neighbor from Pennsylvania as well as your coworker from Pakistan or your classmate from the Philippines. It even comes with a fun, easy-to-remember acronym: BLESS. How can you BLESS the nations this summer?

Just as with any other facet of our lives, building relationships with our international friends begins with prayer. Ask God to help you see those around you who may have never even heard His good news before. Process these opportunities with your missional community, pray together for a specific people group, neighborhood, or individual. Ask God to show you divine appointments with people He wants you to BLESS. Then…

Befriend: Be a friend. Think about how you treat your friends – how you speak with them, pray for them, share life with them. There’s no need to be weird here or over-complicate this part – look for people, strike up a conversation, and then…

Listen: Before you talk – listen. Asking genuine questions with genuine interest not only helps you get to know your new friend, but also helps express your care for them and share God’s story in a very personal way. Think about what you might share with a new friend and let that guide your conversation – information about your family, where you live and work, what you enjoy doing in your spare time, or the things that make up your day-to-day life.

Eat: There’s something about sharing a meal that builds relationships and leads to good conversation. If your friend is from another culture, this is also an opportunity to honor your friend’s culture by learning about and trying their food! Invite them to your home, go out to eat, or accept an invitation to their home… you’ll be glad you did.

Serve: As you get to know your friend, look for a way that you can serve him or her. Be creative, and offer a Grace Bomb – do something kind with no strings attached. Serving doesn’t have to cost money, but the thoughtfulness with which you serve can pay dividends in your relationship.

Share: Over the last days and months, you’ve had the opportunity to build a relationship and trust with your new friend, and you may have gotten to learn and experience a new culture! Prayerfully ask God to show you the opportunity to share your faith – to verbally share what you believe – at just the right time. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers – you just need to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).

It’s going to be a great summer, friends. Let’s spend every day with eyes open for the people God loves – from here to the nations. How might God be calling you to BLESS the nations this summer right here at home?