“Where you going?” the young boy called out to us from across the parking lot. “None of your business,” we thought, but didn’t say.
My wife and I were young and entirely inexperienced cross-cultural workers, fresh from the United States. We hadn’t yet learned the ways of greeting in the Philippines. Later we understood that “Where are you going?” was a common and friendly way to greet someone, similar to our asking “How are you?” In time, we grew accustomed to exchanging this greeting in several Filipino languages.
Greeting people in a way that makes sense to them is an important first step in relating to them interculturally. Such greetings help move you from being a stranger to becoming a friend. They bring you into the community and lead to other ways of engaging.
In South Sudan I quickly learned to grasp another man’s hand firmly, as with a handshake, and then pull myself somewhat forcefully to him, as he did the same to me, bumping our shoulders together several times, all of which was followed by big smiles and hearty laughs.
Everyone has their way! Many Muslims will greet you with “As-Salaam-Alaikum,” meaning “Peace be upon you.” Additionally, Arabs may bump noses with you. Latin Americans often air kiss on the cheek. Many Southeast Asians bow. Malaysians take the hands of the other person lightly and briefly in their own, and then bring their hands to their chest to communicate goodwill and an open heart. Tibetans place their hands together in front of their chests and stick out their tongues. Why? To show that they come in peace!
If I consider how I might greet you within the community that we call the World Mission Prayer League, I don’t think I’d come up with anything quite so elaborate. You’d probably consider a simple “hello” quite sufficient. Nonetheless, with all due respect to the Texans among us, I might just say, “Howdy, partner!”
If you’re signed up to receive our Together in Prayer newsletter, we consider you a partner in our ministry, a valued member of our praying community. There is no obligation other than to join with us in prayer. As the Apostle Paul was grateful for the Christians in Philippi, so we thank God for you “because of your partnership in the gospel.”
(Philippians 1:5) Because we have long affirmed in the Prayer League that “prayer is our working method,” we can happily call you our “fellow workers.” (1 Corinthians 3:9)
Of course, not everyone is going to be involved in the World Mission Prayer League in the same way or to the same degree. We know that some who receive our newsletter read and pray carefully through each item, even on a daily basis. Others, we’re sure, have opportunity to consider and perhaps pray over only a portion of what we share. What we do know is this: in whatever amount, praying together matters. It matters to the Lord, who promised that he would be present – and listening – when “two or three are gathered” in his name. And it matters to us, as it did to the very first Christians, for whom “awe came upon every soul” when they devoted themselves to praying together in a mission fellowship. (Acts 2:42-43) Could it be that God wants to add a little awe to your life?
In the World Mission Prayer League we are greatly encouraged by the invitation Jesus gave his disciples that they would “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) And so, the other greeting we would extend to you, our fellow followers of Jesus and our partners in prayer, is welcome!
Welcome to our fellowship! You are welcome to pray privately, or perhaps in a small group, through some of the requests we share, as perhaps you already do. You are part of the Prayer League when you do! You are also welcome to gather with others in the WMPL fellowship to hear about and pray for our Kingdom work around the world. Visit us online (https://wmpl.org/events/) to see some of the prayer gatherings, both online and in-person, where you would be welcome to attend. We’d love to greet you face-to-face! Finally, you are welcome to share with us how we can be of greater service in helping you in your prayer life, or perhaps including you in our fellowship. How would you like to see us help you engage with the Prayer League? Let us know at email@example.com.
We want you to know that when you partner with the Prayer League, you join us in greeting people around the world with the Good News of Jesus! Don’t be a stranger! Welcome! And, may I add: Where are you going?