Pre-suppostions can potentially ruin someone’s experience with anything, no matter the reality of the actual experience. When we go into something new, like any road trip, a class, coffee shop, a new club, etc., when we’ve already heard other’s experiences with the event, it usually affects the way we actually experience it. We can also have presuppositions about our own environment. We can think of our own environment as being superior to other environments which depletes our appreciation of other cultures & peoples. I’m learning how to learn & appreciate other cultures, regardless of how different they are from mine. I desire to, without compromising my ideals & foundation in Jesus, to conform to what the culture enjoys doing & how they engage with each other.
As I’ve come to Montréal, there are a few major differences that come to mind.
As you read this, genuinely ask yourself: “what is wrong/right about these things?”
1. Alcohol Consumption (Of age drinking, responsibly)
- Drinking beer, going to a bar, buying beer are all things that are a norm in society here, even among Christians.
- People go out for drinks more frequently than they do for coffee.
- Going to a bar with someone opens up doors to share the gospel.
- Most restaurants expect you to drink their wine.
2. Swearing (They’re just words, right?)
- Swearing is different in any country. American curse words are regular words in French.
- While at most times, completely innapropriate, out of respect for people, it’s best to refrain.
- It’s ok if you hear the F bomb in a fancy restaurant, don’t let your cringe be to obvious.
3. People think & act differently
- Instead of criticizing people for what they do in their cultural norm, seek to understand.
- Don’t assume the way you do things is the best way. Obtain & ask God for a heart of humility so that you can learn & be open to other things.
- People don’t hold doors for you to walk through.
- People don’t say hello when you walk by on the street.
- People don’t say sorry if they bump into you.
- It’s not because they are rude. It’s because in a big city, in a fast city, you have to forsake your right to comfort in traveling like you may experience in your Kia on the way to Wal-Mart in your small town. People are accustomed to being uncomfortable here.
- Also, even though someone may not smile & say hello to you on the street, it is always appropriate to smile & say hello to them.
The big picture is learning about people to the point to where you understand them & obtain the opportunity to share true love with them. I asked my new friend that I met at a restaurant that I frequent, “What is the perspective, or the general thought towards people like me? You know, an American coming to Montréal to learn about ministry here?”
He said to me, “We [Québecois] are open to any person coming here for any reason. If you come here & try to convert everyone & are arrogant, we will avoid you.”
Sometimes you have to seek conversion without agressively trying to convert.
After sharing a beer with him, we went to dinner & I found the opportunity to share the Gospel with him. He wants to spend more time together & come to the church that I go to. Sharing the gospel is not just merely “trying to convert”, it’s truly loving & understanding someone & meeting them where they are. We are not sales persons with an item, but we have a story, a true embrace of love that we deliver.
I’ve been here for a month & that’s what I’m learning. Feedback is necessary. Thanks for reading along.