Enter the Story of a Stranger

refugees quote

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

The verses are from a well-known and oft used passage in the book of Matthew. Through the years, they have been used as a challenge, as an admonition, and as a reminder:

Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit those in prison.  Why? Because God. We don’t do it because of politics or out of guilt – we do it because our love of God compels us to love others.

We will soon enter the Season of Advent, where we have a choice. A choice to step back and make a conscious decision to welcome the stranger. It’s easy to write a status update on social media, it’s much more difficult and costly to live out our strongly held beliefs.

 Let’s change the conversation and welcome the stranger this season.

Here’s how:

    • Find out your local VOLAG (voluntary agency that works with refugees) See what they need and how you can help. Here is where you can find a VOLAG.
    • Open your home for Thanksgiving. This is an amazing holiday to invite people from other countries into your home.
    • Watch this 17 minute film and encourage your friends, your church, your colleagues to watch it. It’s another way of entering the story of a stranger.
    • If you are a mom, consider sending a contribution via Moms for Moms. Take a look at this video and see how to contribute.

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/moms-for-moms/embedded

    • Host a gathering to make kits for refugees. Here’s what you need and where you send them:

Family Refugee Kit (~$28):

4-pack of toilet paper
3.1 ounce bar of soap
22.5 ounce bottle of shampoo
4 toothbrushes
2 6.4 ounce tubes of toothpaste
2-pack of bath towels
36 count sanitary pads
2.5 ounce hand sanitizing gel
4- to 10-pack of shaving razors with travel size shaving cream
$4 for shipping costs
Note: kit items can be donated in any bag or box,

Infant Refugee Kit (~$19):

36-pack disposable diapers
Travel pack of wet wipes
15 ounce bottle baby shampoo
Tube of diaper rash cream
Washcloth
 $4 for shipping costs
Note: kit items can be donated in any bag or box, drawstring garbage bag preferred.

drawstring garbage bag preferred. All information courtesy of  Medical Teams International

See Medical Teams International for more drop off information and more information about the organization.
I cannot stress enough how useful these kits are. We have taken over 100 to Iraq and Turkey and sent even more. It’s an excellent Christmas project. I reached out to the folks at Medical Teams and here is what they said:

“Thank you so much for your email – and your support for our mission. We will gladly accept shipments at our Tigard Oregon Distribution Center – 14150 SW Milton Court, Tigard OR 97224. Again, thank you for your interest in our project – We are so touched by the kindness and compassion from people around the US!”

Start a project TODAY in your community.

“God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”*

Will I live out my response to the Incarnation? Will I welcome and enter into the story of a stranger?

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

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