It is an interesting time when the Huffington Post beats many churches to principles of Christian hospitality, but that is precisely what has happened in a recent article they published called, “99% of Immigrants Feel More Welcome After a Dinner.”
The premise of this article should be common sense, but for many (and I mean many in our churches) it is a concept that has never crossed the mind. To be fair, there are many churches who get it. The New York Times recently ran a piece on Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and their work with refugees. It is a great article and a fine example of a proper response to refugees for churches across the country. In fact, I have said here before that I believe there is a movement across North America of churches waking up to new Great Commission opportunities right around us.
For those churches that are not yet reaching out to immigrants and refugees, I submit this article in the Huffington Post for your consideration. The author, Lina Makso, is a Syrian refugee who lives in Sweden. Of course, this concept of hospitality does not merely apply in the US. It is true for Europeans just as it is for us. Makso reports on her early experiences in Sweden with an organization called United Invitations. This organization connects local Swedes with new immigrants in order to invite them over for dinner. It impacted her so much she began to work for them.
A civil engineer by trade, Makso now measures their performance, and that is where the percentage in the headline originates. According to their surveys and statistical information, 99% of the immigrants in their program feel more welcome after one, single dinner.
Can we, the local churches in North America, not be that welcoming force for the large numbers of internationals who come to our communities? Does the Bible not specifically tell us to welcome the stranger (a phrase that refers to foreigners)? Are we not responsible for taking the gospel to the nations?
Today, our dinner tables are a great place to do all of that.
Read the Huffington Post piece here: 99% of Immigrants Feel More Welcome After a Dinner