The God of the Bible commands us to welcome the stranger. Whether in Leviticus 19:34b where we are commanded “to love the alien as yourself,” or Matthew 25:31-46 where we are informed by the Son of Man that “to welcome the stranger” is to welcome Christ himself, we are to show hospitality to those who are new to our neighborhood. When we do this, God is pleased.
For the last four weeks on Wednesday nights, we have been welcoming strangers to St. Timothy’s who want to learn English. Some of these families have lived in our neighborhood for several years. Some have arrived more recently. Some bring their children who go either to the nursery or “Homework Club.” The adults are not in a class. They simply gather at tables with members of St. Timothy’s to learn English through casual conversation. Kim Montgomery, a local ESL teacher, provides questions to spark the conversations. As people arrive and are excited to see new friends from the previous week, and as you feel the energy during the evening, you know that the Spirit of God is at work.
These Wednesday evenings are surely a glimpse of the kind of world God desires. There in one room are people from the Sudan, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Turkey, Palestine, El Salvador, Syria, and the United States enjoying one another and living in peace. There in one room are people from different religions enjoying one another and living in peace. There in one room are people with different colored skin enjoying one another and living in peace. These evenings are so life giving that people are inviting their friends to come and join them.
In a world filled with so much division and hatred, we need such glimpses to give us hope that an alternative is possible. These glimpses also inspire us to reach out to other strangers and welcome them. Who knows how many other people from other cultures live in the shadows? Who knows how many other people would like to have a non-threatening place to learn how to speak English and meet some new friends?
The ministry of the church is all about making strangers friends. Members of the church are people who connect people to build up the neighborhood. Members of the church are people who see people who are lonely and isolated and connect them to another person. Members of the church are people who are always looking for ways to bring people together to work for the common good.
If you would like to join us on Wednesday evenings, 6:30pm—8:00pm, just show up. If you know someone who would like to learn English in a loving environment, invite them to come too.