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Faithful Immigrants

A Familiar Passage

There’s an important lesson I learned recently when reading through a passage a lot of us are familiar with in Hebrews. When I was growing up we called the passage the “Hall of Faith.”

I won’t take the time to write it all down here, but it’s located in Hebrews 11:4-40. When you read through it, you’ll immediately see the author mentioning name after name of people in the Bible who all did incredible things during their lives “by faith.”

And I love that – that God, via this author of Hebrews, would take the time to celebrate the faith accomplishments and the journeys with Him of normal people who lived lives on the same planet you and I do.

It’s encouraging to know that God pays attention to our struggles and accomplishments down here and can use those stories to encourage others to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,” and to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2)

But today, as I sat in a coffee shop in downtown Davenport, something caught my attention about many of those folks mentioned in the Hall of Faith…

Some of them were immigrants and refugees.

Immigrant and Refugee Experiences

Did that catch you off guard? Yeah, me too. It’s not something we typically think about in those terms. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Think about it, Abraham (11:8-9) “went out, not knowing where he was going…in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob…” Sarah, Abraham’s wife is mentioned there too.

Moses (11:23-29), the man chosen by God to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery and into the Promised Land, started his life off as a foreigner in a country that wasn’t his home. And even after growing up in Egypt, he left what had become “home” to him to go back to the Promised Land – a place he had never been before.

Later in Hebrews 11 it mentions Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (11:33-34), guys who were all immigrants from the land of Israel in Babylon.

But Hebrews 11 isn’t the only place in the Bible we run into these kinds of “faithful immigrants” either. Though not mentioned in the Hall of Faith, people like Hagar (Gen. 21:14), Ruth (Ruth 1:1-6, 16, 2:10), and even Jesus (Matthew 2:13-15) are all spoken of as sharing an immigrant/refugee experience of seeking better, safer lives in places that were not their home.

An Invitation to Welcome

So what’s the point? World Relief works diligently and daily to serve the most vulnerable, and we invite churches all over the Quad Cities to partner with us to do the same.

And when we do – when we agree to serve and love the wanderer, the foreigner, the immigrant and the refugee – we find that we’re serving and interacting with people who are a lot more like people in the Bible than we are.

This is the thing about refugees and immigrants in our community – each and every one of them, because of their unique experiences, can help us see a little more of the movement of God and the kinds of lives He often uses to accomplish great things here on Earth.

So today, I invite you to welcome them, love them, and get to know them. I promise, your life will be enriched as a result.

Blessings, friends, on this wonderful Monday.

Feeling inspired to get involved? Schedule a conversation with Spencer. Or, request a guest speaker at an upcoming event.

Spencer Conner is the Church Mobilizer at World Relief Quad Cities. He is originally from Atlanta, GA and has served as a Student Pastor in several churches between North Carolina and Kentucky over the past decade.  Spencer is married to Beth, World Relief Quad Cities’ Community Engagement Manager, and they live in Davenport, IA with their golden retriever, Tuck.

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