You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Deuteronomy 10:19
In the 1920s my father’s parents arrived in Canada from Ukraine. They were frail after surviving a famine and penniless after losing everything to marauding bandits. They couldn’t speak English. Canadians took these strangers in. They received transportation loans. People found jobs and homes for them.
Recently my husband and I took my father to a party hosted by the son of a family my parents sponsored to come to Canada from Cambodia in 1985. Everyone in the family calls my father “Grandpa”. The family has grown, its members have prospered and have become valuable contributing citizens of Canada in many different areas. They still include my widowed father in their social gatherings because they have not forgotten the help my Mom and Dad gave them when they were strangers in a new country.
Like my father, many of my grandparents’ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have been very active in supporting refugees. I think we are all motivated at least in part, by the thought of what would have happened to our grandparents if they hadn’t received assistance when they were strangers in a new country. Helping refugees is part of our family’s legacy.
Some fifty Scripture passages reference the need for a generous attitude to strangers. In Deuteronomy 10:19 God reminds the children of Israel to show kindness to strangers because they were once strangers themselves in Egypt. In Matthew 25:38 Jesus says that when we welcome strangers we are really welcoming him. Romans 12:13 lists hospitality to strangers as an attribute of the faithful.