This trimester, one of the small groups at Restoration is trying something new. Our small group is called Welcoming the Stranger, and we’re focusing on making connections with immigrants – those we already know and some we have yet to come into contact with.
One of the themes that we’ve been discussing is God’s passionate concern for those who are far from home (Deut. 10:18-19; Jer. 7:5-7; Ps. 68:6). It’s a beautiful thing to discover that the God of the universe truly cares about people who are potentially lonely, marginalized, stigmatized, or at an economic disadvantage. In fact, he actually gets pretty upset when his people are apathetic about these situations (Matt. 25:43).
A second theme we’ve been discussing is the way God’s passion is expressed – in the form of a relatively simple call to us to extend a welcome to the stranger (Matt. 25:35; Hebrews 13:2). When we were far from God, he welcomed us into his family, and welcoming the stranger is one way that we can extend that same type of love to others. Our small group has been thinking and praying about what this might look like in our lives.
Each of us has thought of simple but creative ways to put this into practice: signing up for ESOL and conversation partner programs; allowing time in our schedules to stop and have conversations with people that we come into contact with at stores or at work; or becoming a presence in places where immigrant communities tend to spend their time, such as parks and coffee shops. These open up possibilities for meaningful conversations throughout the day and even opportunities for the kind of deeper relationship where you might welcome someone into your home for a meal.
Our discussions have been informative about the different facets of immigration and the demographics of Arlington and the DC area. They’ve also been convicting at a heart level as we’ve wrestled with making lifestyle changes for God’s kingdom. But most of all, we’ve gotten a deeper sense of excitement for the possibility that the church could be known as a welcoming place for immigrants who move to our neighborhoods.
We’d love to share this vision with the church, and we have two events coming up that might be of interest to you.
- On October 30th, at 7:30pm, Dawnielle Miller (who is well-known to many of us!) is going to share about how Casa Chirilagua has worked to build relationships with, provide resources for, and share Christ with immigrants from Latin America.
- On November 6th, James and Faith Cha, who work with the Crescent Project, will be sharing their story of how churches welcomed them as immigrants to the U.S. They have, in turn, responded to God’s call to welcome the stranger here and found very creative, practical ways of doing so.
We’d love it if you joined us for these events. We’re excited about what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, and it would be great if you joined the conversation. If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.