Foreigner

“. . . know how it feels to be a foreigner . . .”
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“Do not mistreat a foreigner; you know how it feels to be a foreigner, because you were foreigners in Egypt.”
(Exodus 23:9)

There are foreigners in our midst! In June our youth group traveled to Boston for its annual mission trip. While we were there we were split into different groups and sent out to various ministry sites in and around the city. A couple of the groups worked at an urban community garden right in the midst of some of the city’s neighborhoods. The community garden was quite an operation. They grew vegetables to sell so that the profits could be used to help folks with various needs. They also had a large greenhouse where they planted seeds and started their own plants for their gardens. In addition, they sold plants to other farmers. When we were there working they had just finished their plant sales and had a few plants left over. We told the garden supervisor that our church in conjunction with a new organization called, Healthy Cross Lanes, was building a brand new community garden beside our church, so the supervisor sent us home with tomato and sunflower plants for our new garden! We’re enjoying the foreign sunflowers and getting ready to harvest the tomatoes for our community food pantry.

One of the main reasons we take our youth and adults away to be foreigners in another land is so that when they return, their eyes will be opened to the need in their own community. The youth will be better able to identify and minister with the foreigners in our community. For me these Boston sunflowers thriving in West Virginia really remind me that we are all at one time or another foreigners in need of help. Maybe we felt like a foreigner when we didn’t wear or couldn’t afford to wear just the right clothes to school. Maybe we feel like a foreigner when our body image doesn’t match what’s plastered everywhere we turn. Maybe we feel like a foreigner when our opinions don’t match the harsh opinions of others slung around us. Maybe we feel like a foreigner when we know we don’t have the economic means to help our children fit in. Maybe we feel like a foreigner when we’re afraid to attend church because something will cause us to stick out or be snubbed. Maybe we feel like a foreigner when love betrays us. Maybe we feel like a foreigner when for one reason or another others make it clear they really don’t want us around. Maybe we feel like a foreigner when ______________ .

Let’s face it, feeling like a foreigner is not foreign to most if not all of us. It’s a terrible feeling that, if sustained for too long, can become incredibly destructive. We strive to fit in with all our resources and might. The ironic thing is that once we do succeed in fitting in, once we achieve resident status, once we no longer feel like a foreigner, we are quick to forget what it was like. It becomes way too easy to celebrate our resident status by joining others in ignoring and or abusing the foreigner. There are many and all kinds of foreigners among us today. Some of them live in our neighborhood, some of them live in our community, and some of them live in places close to our national borders. Regardless of where they live or what kind of foreigner they might be (economic, emotional, relational, or geographical) we will only succeed in finding just and hopeful solutions for living in healthy relationships together if we first remember God’s word from the book of Exodus,
“Do not mistreat a foreigner; you know how it feels to be a foreigner, because you were foreigners in Egypt.”

I pray that as I face the difficult situations of our communities today, whether it’s in schools, homes, churches, relationships, or even national borders, God will help me remember what it’s like to be a foreigner, so that awareness and God’s Holy Spirit can guide me. How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Gary
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

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~ by revgenelson on August 6, 2014.

One Response to “Foreigner”

  1. God help us to open our hearts and minds to those we consider foreigners.

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