When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God – Leviticus 19: 33-35
I’m reading through the Bible at the moment, starting in Genesis. It is fantastic, and I would encourage everyone to do the same. A recurring theme, is the verse above, where God commands the Israelites to remember they too were slaves, terribly treated – and so not to do the same with ‘outsiders’ who came to stay.
I’m not sure the Israelites ever listened, and it got me thinking about immigration into this country. What is our view? If you’re view is like mine then you’re probably bigoted like me, slightly scared of different cultures on ‘our’ soil, why can’t they just stay where they were? Hardly Christ-like. Some are peaceful, most want to change our country to suit them, some even want to kill us; much of this is true, but on another plain Christ has brought us an opportunity to expand our Gospel to their lives. How do we react?
Last weekend we were engaged in some training and fellowship for a day, in a Western suburb of Sydney. The stats were 40% Muslim, 40% Lebanese Catholic, 20% all sorts. That’s right, there are suburbs in Sydney that are Muslim enclaves. So, in an hour and half before lunch, we went out door knocking. Protocols were explained to us before, such as women talk to women, men to men and so on, and then two by two, out we went. We came laden with Arabic Testaments, cookies and goodwill. I went with my wife.
Together we had a wonderful time; we met a man who spoke no English, but desperately wanted to talk; the only word he understood was Isa, Jesus, so he took our New Testament to read. We left after prayerfully blessing him. We talked and prayed with Fred the Turk, who had a loud, comical wife; she spoke to him in Turkish, he spoke to us in English, we spoke to her in English. We met a 94-year old who was likely a genuine believer who had been in the area when there were just 4 houses. We met and prayed for an Indian lady, a young woman who was very cautious. All in all, we had a lively, rich experience of approaching people from a totally different culture.
There is a tiny church in the middle, with 38 adherents who spend much of their time reaching out to this community. They speak Arabic, Urdu and run gatherings in multi languages. They have their work cut out, and so we were able to be a blessing to them as well. We gave them the names of people to follow up.
God does something in a person’s soul when we pray with them or explain the Gospel. He works unseen, and we may never know the outcome until eternity. All he requires of us is to get started.
Occasionally, such as with Rob the surfer, we get the chance to go a bit further. This Thursday, I started a Discovery Group in a coffee shop, Lok’s coffee shop down in our village. There are 4 of us; Rob, who walked up our drive to buy a surfboard who was spiritually searching; another who wavers from time to time and has a young faith and another, who talks, walks and acts like a believer, but deep down knows he isn’t. Lok, the owner, also looks on with interest.
Discovery Groups, centred around Discovery Bible Study are changing lives around the world. They require no one teacher (other than the Spirit of Christ) so anyone can run one with any group. Everyone gets to participate. Everyone is challenged and held accountable at the end, to share the passage with someone else this coming week. From the outset, new adherents to the faith are taught that sharing Jesus is a part of following him. There is no excuse.
I’d love to see this expand into more groups, but that takes more than me; I need to pray, and the group needs prayer. If you remember as you walk along, then lift us up to the Lord. He alone will multiply this; it is the culmination of several years work, just to get to this point.
He wants to, we want to see the kingdom multiplied. Within it, there will be sojourners, those who need a refuge. In Christ, we have the answer to their rest. Let’s get started.