How a new resource can actually help us connect with our unreached neighbors.
Something happens to us when we see something we don’t understand, smell a scent that is strange, taste a flavor or feel texture that is totally foreign, or hear a language spoken that has distinct sounds, yet, holds no meaning to us.
When thrust into an unfamiliar environment, we quickly begin to feel unsure, anxious, or even scared. The familiar is our security net; we thrive in “the known,” the understandable. Meaning and significance are relative and yet, we create it within our environments without thinking. Even our small rituals become sacred. It is all too easy to pull away from places and people who look, smell, and sound differently than we do. What we don’t understand, we fear. What we don’t know, we avoid. This is embedded in our human nature and not a person alive could deny this fear or avoidance in their life when faced with the different or the unfamiliar.
We as believers serve a God who transcends race, culture, language, and ethnicity. Christ lived as a man in a distinct people group and culture, yet he gave hope to all mankind through his self-sacrifice. He connected and welcomed people of all backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles: Jews, Samaritans, Romans, lepers, prostitutes, children, women, the sick, and and the poor. He showed value to each person in all his interactions and shared the love of the Father. Jesus went to people’s homes, met them at wells and rooftops, ate meals with them, walked with them, and sat with them in their suffering. He commands us to do the same, as he commanded his own followers to “go make disciples of all nations…”
But how can we actually live out his words? How do we model his love and compassion in our everyday lives? How do we reach those who haven’t heard of Jesus from where we live, work, and play? How do we welcome those who are so different from us? Are we even willing to try?
Xplore: Welcoming The Nations Among Us is a resource born out of need and desire to introduce the global church to a lifestyle of welcoming. Welcoming is the act of connecting our lives to those who don’t have access to Jesus within the communities which we live. This study on welcoming is condensed into six simple lessons that begin with the biblical basis of welcoming. It walks readers through examples in the Old and New Testament where God and his people welcomed different people and cultures, sharing with them the knowledge and nature of God. The chapters center on God’s loving character, how He yearns for every tongue, tribe, and nation to be redeemed to Himself, and uses His people to enact that redemption. Xplore: Welcoming the Nations Among Us presents us with the need and the opportunity of welcoming the unreached who have been planted among us. The unreached can come from any country and ethnic group and fall into one or more of these classifications: migrants (immigrants), refugees (conflict that displaces people), near neighbors (minority ethnic groups who have lived in a country for several generations) or professionals (those who move for academic or career pursuits).
Secondly, the study spotlights the top four obstacles believers face when it comes to opening up our lives to welcome the unreached living near us: pride, prejudice, fear and busyness. Each obstacle prevents us from connecting our lives to those unreached who need to hear of Jesus. Xplore: Welcoming the Nations Among Us gives us examples of how we can welcome in real, practical ways while changing our perspective about welcoming. The study also helps readers craft a personal “welcomer” plan that can also be used by a small group or a church to create a culture of welcoming the unreached. A community of believers can help each other build a framework of welcoming so that they can implement a natural lifestyle of sharing the gospel through relationship. A culture of welcoming thrives when it’s built by a community of believers that keep each other encouraged and accountable to live out a “welcomer” lifestyle together.
God does not call every believer to uproot their lives and move to work among the unreached. However, each of us is called, as individuals, as groups, and as the collective body of Christ, to love and serve our neighbors. That means every type of “neighbor.” He commands us to welcome the foreigner, the refugee, the migrant worker. Moreover, we are commanded to take the gospel to all nations, which may happen to live only a few blocks away from us. We are not asked to be experienced, comfortable, or welcome others at our convenience. We are only asked to be willing.
Reaching out to people different than us is intimidating. It does involve courage and risk. It can be awkward and unnatural at first. But we have the help of the Holy Spirit and the love of the Father to lead us in sharing the hope and joy of our Savior. Xplore: Welcoming the Nations Among Us is a unique and valuable resource for any person or community that wants to put the lifestyle of welcoming like Jesus into practice.
We may be surprised as we follow Jesus’ example of welcoming; we may be changed more than we imagined. We may experience the profoundness of God’s compassion and love as we have tea with a Muslim student, attend a Holi festival with a Hindu family, listen to a Sudanese refugee’s story, or play soccer at the park with Pakistani friends. Opening our lives and home is a sacred act. Christ is present in every opportunity, waiting to display His light and love for every person we reach out to with. All we have to do is step out the door and open our hands. God is waiting in the unfamiliar.