When people are forced to leave their homelands, they tend to seek out that which is familiar. Often this means settling into neighborhoods with a high percentage of people who speak their same language. While this may aid comfort levels, it doesn’t necessarily help individuals and families figure out how to navigate their new environment.
Sending Christian workers into these communities, in which many of the members have limited ability to speak the local language and very little understanding of the culture, can be tricky. How can we help them not only survive what has possibly been the most traumatizing event of their lives, but eventually thrive?
First and foremost is to love God and believe in the transforming power of the gospel. Second is to love people. In this devotional, we are specifically thinking of the foreign-born, the hard to reach, the marginalized of society. We desire to help them in all aspects of life. This includes family, education, employment and, most of all, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
One of the most effective ways to help our new friends and neighbors is through meeting felt needs. In the beginning, this can come in the form of housing, food, transportation, and employment—the basic things they may need just to survive. This isn’t something one person can do all on their own. We need to come together as the body of Christ, and each contribute according to our calling, gifting, and ability.
Not surprisingly, it is hard to share the gospel with someone who does not speak the same language we speak. Many Christian workers are actively engaged in teaching language classes. Some are even trying to learn another language in their own homeland. The desire is to not only help people understand the gospel, but to also enable them to function in their new society. We do not teach them our language so that they can be like us, but so that they can understand contracts, go to parent/teacher conferences, understand laws, pass citizenship tests, avoid being victimized by con artists, and hopefully be positive contributors to our increasingly global society.
Today we thank the Lord for bringing new friends to our neighborhoods.
We pray that we would know how we can help meet their felt needs and that we act upon that knowledge.