Bulletin #8: May, 2017
There are two Bible stories that have interestingly similar themes: (1) The story of the Widow at Zarephath, who was starving to death but nevertheless made a loaf of bread for the prophet Elijah to eat before she fed herself and her son; and (2) The story of the Daughter of Pharaoh who became the rescuer of Moses, even though she put own life at risk by saving him. Both Elijah and Moses, and the class of people they represented, were being threatened with serious bodily harm and even death by evil tyrants, yet the Starving Widow and Pharaoh’s Daughter became their protectors. In our times, the strangers in our midst are the equivalent of any ethnic group or minority population that would find safety in the strength of our protection. Would you help to protect a stranger even if you put yourself at risk? If the Starving Widow and Pharaoh’s Daughter (both Gentiles) can love a stranger, how much more should the children of the Almighty God, who benefit from divine protection, love the strangers in their midst?
Here’s An Applicable Scripture:
The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:34
We are all insiders and outsiders at the same time. Every community and ethnic group on earth has groups that outsiders to them. We all have strangers in our midst. Our command is to love those strangers as we love ourselves. In doing so, we destroy the walls that divide us by Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, female, rich, poor, young and old. Loving the strangers among us is a tangible demonstration of godliness.
The Hairs on Every Person’s Head Are Counted by The Lord
Thousands of refugees arrive each year in Massachusetts from places like Iraq, Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, Sudan and Syria – they have gone through the worst types of hell imaginable. In recent years, many of us have questioned whether we should admit these strangers, perhaps due to what country they come from or from what religion they practice. Despite our concerns, our responsibility as believers is to find a way to welcome them, feed them, clothe them, find them shelter and help them heal their wounds. Though their ways might be strange and foreign to us, their ways, their history and their personal stories are fully known to our God. Rejecting them in their time of need, is tantamount to rejecting Jesus himself.
Unity in Diversity, the Way of the Believer:
The Boston region is an area teaming with diversity. Yet, many Bostonians do not move beyond their racial and socio-economic communities. Our churches are divided along lines of racism, classism and more denominations to count. We are strangers to each other, even in the most basic of ways. Over the years, there have been many wonderful projects and alliances bridging these divides by pastors, leaders and church members. The United Night of Worship is one of those organizations. Founded by Zenzo Matoga, a missionary from Malawi, Africa, UNOW, as it is called has become an organization which connects many churches in shared worship, starting in 2007 with approximately 700 in attendance to successive years at City Hall of over 10,000 believers of different cultures and denominations gathered together in worship. Many other organizations in this region share a similar call for unity and for sharing love to others of different cultures, complexions and callings.
Watch this 10 minute video about refugees
Imagine that it was no longer safe for you to live where you are now. What would you have to consider as part of your decision to leave? What would you worry about? What would you look forward to? How would you want to be welcomed into your new country?
Esther Circle Activity:
Gather a group of friends and make it a point to visit an activity at another church that is ethnically and racially different than yours for the sole purpose of meeting and fellowshipping with those believers. Then meet with your circle of friends afterwards and ask yourselves how you felt at your visit. Did you feel welcomed? Try to explain to each other how their culture operates. Try to understand. Then determine how to be more welcoming to strangers at your own church given what you have experienced.
Extended Activities You Can Do:
Become trained by and volunteer with the Greater Boston Refugee Ministry where you can become an ambassador. As an ambassador you’ll meet a refugee family at the airport, take them to a doctor’s appointment, or give them a tour of their new Massachusetts neighborhood. You can explain our school system, connect them with teachers and learn about their culture and way of life. Click to find more about the Greater Boston Refugee Ministry.