The stranger who dwells among you...
We live in a small, inclusive, residential area of fifty homes in the southeast corner of Tulsa. Our newest neighbor is a sweet lady who is originally from Kenya. She arrived in the States twelve years ago and she is now a licensed kindergarten teacher.
Across the street from us lives a lovely Vietnamese couple--always smiling and pleasant. Their path to the U.S. was linked to the fall of Saigon to communist forces in 1975. The husband, a fighter pilot facing a swift execution, had to leave his wife behind to an uncertain fate. Miraculously, he made it to the States and several years later he successfully petitioned an elected official to free his wife from an overcrowded Malaysian refugee camp.
More recently, we discovered that a dear friend from Venezuela had been a political refugee and forced to flee her country while pregnant and virtually penniless. These friends and neighbors know what it is like to leave their cultures and their past to become strangers in an often strange land. My own experiences as a immigrant are documented in my first book, Io...A Journey to Wholeness.
Throughout the Middle East and Europe, one of the largest refugee crises since World War II is taking place with over eleven million displaced people trying to survive in other lands and among other nationalities. Long ago, God set the bar for the treatment of strangers commanding the Israelite's to love him [the stranger] as yourself. He also wanted the children of Israel to never forget that they were once strangers themselves in the land of Egypt. The standard of an open, welcoming heart remains the same for the tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe the religious, political, and economic freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Keep your hearts open to immigrants, foreigners, and strangers, help whenever you have opportunity, and at the very least offer those that you meet your brightest and most sincere smile!