Strangers No More
I spoke to a man recently who had fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the war in Vietnam, ending up living for five years in a refugee camp in the border region of Thailand. On the surface he has made a successful transition to Canada and owns a new house and a nice car. But he still misses the community with the refugee camp that existed in the desperate conditions. “Even if there was only one sweet potato it was divided and shared.”
Many immigrants to Canada have come from difficult circumstances. They are thankful to be safe but desperately miss a sense of community. Our big cities are fast paced, expensive and impersonal. Many feel socially isolated and lonely. In addition there is a trend toward the forming of ethnic enclaves, increasing the mistrust and fear. A recent article said that over 50% of Canadians do not trust those from Islamic backgrounds. In Vancouver there are some strong feelings by some against those who have come and “taken over” their city.
It is clear from Scripture that God is concerned for the widow, the orphan and the “stranger,” (immigrant, refugee) and expects His people to show similar concern. We have opportunities to respond, ranging from providing shelter (New Hope Community Services), food (El Redentor and Faith food bank), child care (New Hope Daycare), advocacy, ESL training etc.
One facet of this care can be expressed by every believer through simply reaching out to our new “strangers” in genuine friendship and helping to create a sense of community through acts of service, kindness and hospitality. A curriculum has been designed, which will be soon implemented at Faith Baptist, Vancouver, with this very goal in mind – Creating Cross Cultural Community. The goal is for believers to overcome whatever prevents them from expressing concern, and forming friendships within our churches and within our cities with those whom God is bringing from all corners of our world so we might be “strangers no more.”