We have all been shocked by the horrible news of the recent Paris terrorist attacks. There is political debate regarding how our nation should respond to the resettlement of refugees.
But what is happening in the church? And what is happening among the churches of HOKSBA?
Earlier this month, I gathered with a group of African refugees who met to worship for the first time. John Ronel is an African man who now lives in Wichita and is working to establish a ministry among these people. As I listened in on the service, there were multiple language groups including French, Swahili, and English. There were people from many different African nations gathered to worship the Lord of all the earth.
Sharon Baptist Church, and Pastor Steve Tims have been gracious to open their building for this group to meet weekly. Other churches within HOKSBA have given to support this work. And we as an association of churches have been involved in supporting as well.
When I think of these “strangers” among us, I wonder how we will respond to them. We must remember that the gospel is not just for people who are like us, but for all people. For the Jews in Paul’s day, the mystery was that the gospel was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
- Is God bringing these refugees to us so we can show them the love of Christ and share with the hope of Christ? YES!
- Is God bringing these “strangers” among us to allow us opportunities to welcome them as if they were Jesus? YES!
Jesus said that when He comes in His glory He will gather all the nations before Him. As with a shepherd there will be the separation of the sheep from the goats.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
There are hundreds of refugees being relocated to Wichita every year.
Midway Baptist Church has found and ministered to some of them through their ministry at Falcon Pointe Apartments. When they arrive in Wichita, they have very little to begin their new lives.
The trauma of their past experiences is difficult to process. Every family at the service on the Sunday I was there had lost loved ones in war or persecution. Many of the families are women with children and no husband because the husband was killed before they escaped their country of origin.
They may have spent months or years in refugee camps before coming to the US. Now that they are here, understanding and adjusting to the new culture is challenging.
Finding jobs is very difficult. Most people find jobs because of people they know. But when you move to a city and a country where you know no one, the challenge is even greater. And job skills from your life in Africa may not transfer easily.
May the Lord give us His heart for these people He is bringing among us.