For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…
Matthew 25:35 (NIV)
There are many aspects to creating safe, peaceful, and welcoming communities, but I think everyone would agree it is an integral element in creating “palpable kingdom presence”. One critical aspect is welcoming the stranger in our midst.
Often that stranger is a refugee. If we could step into the shoes of a refugee for just one day, we would become much more welcoming to them. I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Those who have walked closely with refugees have a much more positive view of them than those who have not. Those who have not walked closely with refugees often fear the refugee, and that fear can be fueled by politicians who are looking for easy votes.
I have an American friend who recently told me he was getting involved in local refugee ministry even though he was in favor of “building the wall and electrocuting it”. I commended him for his willingness to reach out to the refugees in his midst. I am confident that, after he walks closely with these refugees, he will come to the realization that God has sent them to us to bless us and that what resources we have can be spent on much better things than building walls.
Jesus told us to invite the stranger in not just for the good of the stranger – it was also for the good of us. Draw close to the refugees in your neighborhood and you will come to appreciate why those who have gone before you in welcoming them have come to thank God for sending these strangers into our midst.
This is the first in the “Ensure Safe, Peaceful, and Welcoming Communities” series of blog posts on our Journey to Palpable Kingdom Presence.