Welcoming Internationals

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As the new school year kicks off, it’s a great time to consider ways of making internationals feel welcome in our town, our schools, our workplaces, our church, our homes & our lives. Sadly, a huge percentage of internationals in our area never get invited into anyone’s home during their stay. Some internationals are here with their family members but many including international adoptees and university students are processing entry into our culture, language and community in complete isolation.

Why We Should Welcome: These scriptures speak of the gospel of Christ being for all nations:

Matt. 25: 34 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. 35 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, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 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.’

1Cor. 9:22 I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.  23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Rev. 21:1   Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place* of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,* and God himself will be with them as their God.* 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Rev. 21:22   And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,  25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.  26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.

Rev. 22:17   The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Ways to Welcome: Do unto others. Welcome as you would wish to be welcomed.

  1. On the street, in the grocery store, in the hallway: make eye contact, share a smile, say hello, ask to sit together, ask if you can help.
  2. In school or class or workplace: reach out, introduce yourself, say hello, learn their name and remember it.
  3. In your neighborhood: stop to talk, bring a card, ask over for coffee, a bbq or dinner.
  4. With your kids/family: invite international kids for playdates at your home or to meet at the park, offer to include an international family for your holiday celebration or host a celebration just for them on one of their holidays.
  5. In church: say hello, introduce yourself, offer to sit together, make time to ask/answer questions, invite to lunch, don’t rush off.
  6. Seek opportunities to serve internationals: The Crossing partners with International Community Church, City of Refuge and MU International Center and other organizations to reach and meet the needs of internationals in our town and on our area campuses.

Ways to Pray:

  1. Pray for God to open your heart and give you a desire to make internationals feel welcome.
  2. Pray for God to open your eyes to see the internationals around you and perceive their needs.
  3. Pray for God to give you courage to speak up, defend the weak, reach out despite discomfort, risk awkwardness, overcome shyness and all other barriers to becoming a welcomer.
  4. Pray for God to help you find like-minded people, support, friendships, groups & creative ways to build welcoming community so you are not alone on the journey toward becoming a welcomer.
  5. Pray for God to go before you, to open the hearts of the internationals you will meet, to make them receptive to your invitation, your offer of friendship, your hospitality and even open to believing in Christ if He opens a way for you to share your faith with them.

Internationals come to central Missouri through a host of paths. Regardless of their path into our community and lives, let us be determined to be people of welcome. Here are only a few ways they may end up living, studying and worshipping in our community.

  • International Adoption
  • International University Student Programs
  • Visiting Scholar Programs
  • Refugee & Asylum Programs
  • Planned Relocation/Immigration
  • Emergency Evacuation
  • Visitors VISA
  • Other types of Immigration

Photos: Cam Wheeler, including Instapoem @cam.whelr

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