By a former missionary to the Middle East — It was a rough-looking neighborhood, and as we drove up the street, we looked tentatively at the houses on either side, which were all in various states of disrepair. We glanced at the paper with the address and there it was, the next house on our left. The front door hung open, and the roof and faded siding looked like they had not been touched since the house was built in the mid-50s.
As we approached, we noticed shoes and sandals scattered across the small front porch. From close up we realized why the front door was open. It was 85 degrees, and the house didn’t have air conditioning.
We called out, “Hello,” and immediately someone rushed to the door, greeted us with a big smile and invited us in. As we entered, we left our shoes among the others on the front step. We sat on the floor in the living room and soon we were brought cups of piping hot green tea and some candies. Though this family didn’t have much, what they had they were willing to share with us, and they showed great hospitality.
We were there to teach English to this newly arrived immigrant family, and our hearts went out to them. Their hopes and dreams had been realized when they had been given permission and visas to come to America. But when they arrived, it wasn’t as they had expected. They were placed in a neighborhood where their neighbors spoke Arabic and not much English and they wondered, was thisAmerica?
The immigrant experience
This is the situation and shock that many new immigrants find when they come here to the West. They have ideas and dreams of what things will be like when they arrive, but reality proves nothing like they imagined. New immigrants often are placed in rough, rundown neighborhoods that are not always very welcoming.
This then is the opportunity that lies before us. These new immigrants are coming from countries that are difficult or impossible for Westerners to go to ourselves, and they are landing in our backyards. They have many needs, and though we can’t help with everything, we can help with some things. We can pray for them and demonstrate God’s compassion, loving them as God loves us. We can help in practical ways, too, like teaching English and helping them learn to adapt to this new culture.
We have a window of opportunity to reach out and help these new folks. To be warm and welcoming and share the love of Christ with them. To ask how we can be praying for them and then to pray with them and to follow up again later and see how God is working. Many times when people feel weak, vulnerable and out of control, they are more open to spiritual things. Let’s be ready to speak into the opportunities that God has provided us, right here in our own backyards!
As part of the 10/10 Prayer Initiative, 180 agencies have come together to ask God to draw to himself 10 percent of the world’s Muslims in the next 10 years. 10/10. Easy to remember, yet such an amazingly big task that only God can do it. Will you join us?
• We have teams working with new immigrants in Atlanta, Winnipeg, New York, and Detroit. Pray that these teams would have wisdom and courage to share God’s redeeming love and grace.
• Pray for resources to help us meet some of their practical needs.
• Pray for the mobilization of welcoming teams from local churches to help in reaching out to these new immigrants.
• Check out opportunities to serve immigrant communities in New York, Atlanta, and Detroit.
• Seven ways to develop bridge-building love: Pray first. Ask your Father to give you a Muslim friend — and then be a true friend.