Odds are you know someone whom you suspect has immigrated from another country, even if only as a casual acquaintance. Maybe there’s a family at your church, your work, or your school (or your kids’ school). Set a time, prepare some food, and invite them over! We know – this seems a bit awkward, but we must get past this if we are truly going to be a Church who welcomes the stranger.
Don’t make it a project, but a chance to build a relationship from someone who might really be blessed by your hospitality, and from whom you might have a lot to learn. Without being obtrusive or asking anything that you think might make them feel uncomfortable, ask what made them decide to come to the United States, what it took to get here, and how their experience has been in the United States. Keep an open mind—you’re here to learn, not to judge—and most of all have fun.
Why limit this to one meal? Real transformation happens through relationship, so think of other opportunities to build a friendship. If you’re lucky, you’ll get invited over for a meal (Mexican chilaquiles and Filipino chicken adobo are my favorites, but I’ve really come to enjoy Rwandan ugali, too).
The second part of Jesus’ Great Commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27), and the story he tells afterwards, of the Good Samaritan, makes clear that our neighbor needs to be defined broadly, even to include those of a different ethnic group, whom we didn’t previously know, who are in need. But it’s actually really hard to love your neighbor if you don’t know your neighbor. For whatever reason, even in communities with many immigrants, it’s not uncommon that immigrants know very few native-born citizens and visa versa. By doing something as simple as inviting an immigrant (or, if you are an immigrant, a native-born citizen of a different ethnic group) over for a meal, you can help to change that. In the process of obeying the biblical mandate to extend hospitality, you might just find that you have invited in an angel in disguise (Heb. 13:2); at the very least, we expect you’ll find that you have a lot to learn, and might end up with a new friend, too.
Please let us know how your experience went. What did you learn? What were your expectations going in, and how does the experience change your perspective, if at all? (Please don’t share specific information—names, etc.—of the folks you got to meet without their permission).