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Finding God in the Story of Your Life

Welcoming the stranger

I’m writing a book on the Old Testament–a bible reference-y sort of thing. I put 100 words from the text under the microscope, one at a time, to see what they meant then, what they mean now, what the Hebrew context was, why it matters to us today.

I knew this already, but this project is driving it home–the Old Testament fairly shines with God’s deep concern for the disenfranchised, the poor. The phrase “orphans, widows and the fatherless” rings through the historical books, the poetry and the prophets. Often, another group mentioned with this triad is “the alien” or “foreigner.” Always, the bible counsels mercy and compassion toward these people groups.

The Bible has a lot to say about how we treat foreigners. So I was eager to go to church last night to hear a discussion about immigration.

Matt Soerens, of World Relief, and author of Welcoming the Stranger, was there to be interviewed by Bill Hybels and Heather Larson, Willow’s director of compassion ministries.

It’s a loaded issue, one that polarizes our society and has potential to polarize our church. I appreciated Bill’s reminder that we have tackled thorny issues before: women in leadership, the AIDS crisis, racial reconciliation, global poverty, and so on. Willow is bold to ask the questions about what it means to bring the kingdom on earth.

Willow has not landed on a position, but is asking our congregation to think about what it means to love your neighbor, and to become more educated about the issue of immigration.

I was so proud of my church. while other churches might ignore controversy, my church says, the fastest-growing ministry in our church is one that serves some brothers and sisters who may happen to be undocumented, so we need to take a look at this issue. there are no easy answers, but I’m glad to be a part of a church that is asking the questions.

I’d love to have you watch the discussion our church had last night. You can see and here it by clicking here.

2 Comments

  1. The new book sounds fabulous – can’t wait to read it! And I love that Willow is willing to tackle the thory issues of our day.

    Blessings ~ Rachel

  2. Keri, I’m learning what a hot-bed of controversy it really is. I’ve just taken a (God-given!) job in Amarillo, Texas, where we recently moved to be near family, as the Community Liaison for Catholic Family Service’s Refugee Resettlement Services. Though refugees aren’t undocumented, and they have no choice about where they end up, people often confuse them with immigrants. One of my jobs will be to talk to groups–especially churches–making them aware of the plight of refugees, and asking them to come alongside us to fill in the gaps.

    You’re right, the Bible is full of commands to help the poor and needy. We really can’t get around it, though we may want to. My latest blog post was about how the refugees are changing my perspective. I called it “Ice Cream, Poverty, and Joy.” 🙂

    I will watch the presentation you linked to with interest. Thanks for sharing it!

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