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Wednesday, 05 October 2016 12:34

Aliens and Strangers

Written by  Sam Whatley
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In the Book of Exodus there are dozens of commandments. One that catches my attention is Exodus 22:21, “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him for you were aliens in Egypt” (NIV).

 

Have you ever felt like an alien? If you travel much at all, you know the feeling of being a “stranger in a strange land.”

 

In July, 1991 my ten-year-old son, Andrew, and I spent two weeks in Warsaw, Poland. Andrew was attending a children’s chess tournament. I was his chaperone.

 

It became legal for Americans to enter Poland only three weeks before we arrived. The Berlin Wall was torn down two years earlier, but the Soviet Union was still around for a few more months.  The sight of visitors from the West seemed to create an uneasiness among Warsaw citizens.

 

About 150 kids from around the world competed in ten four-hour rounds of chess. The games were held each weekday in a sporting arena in downtown Warsaw. Each afternoon the children and parents took shuttle buses to a dormitory in Praga, a town across the Vistula River.

 

Two weeks is a long time to watch chess. After a week, several of us chose to let the shuttle go on back without us, while we explored the city. Usually we took a taxi or streetcar back to Praga. One day Andrew and I decided to venture out on our own and take the city bus.

 

 My big mistake was getting off at the first stop after we crossed the river. Praga turned out to be much bigger than I thought. As we stepped off and the bus drove away, I realized that our dorm was still miles away. We had little Polish money (zlotys), no more bus tickets, and did not know any of the language. We were stuck. No one we had met in Warsaw spoke English to us, except some university students.

 

After wandering around the bus stop for a few minutes, I admitted to my son that I was totally baffled. Andrew said, “I think it’s time to pray.” He was right. We prayed.

 

A few minutes later a lady’s voice said, “Do you need help?” At first we didn’t see anyone. Then we saw a mother and two small children come up the steps from the river. The boy and girl were wearing wet swimsuits and towels. The lady introduced herself as an English teacher from the local school. We explained our plight. She gave us two bus tickets and the three of them boarded the next bus with us. We parted ways at the end of the line, a few blocks from our dorm. I tried to pay the lady in dollars. She said no, but asked if I would send her class a few postcards from Alabama. I was stunned at her kindness and overcome with gratitude.

 

Andrew did not seem surprised. After all, we had prayed, hadn’t we?

 

As years have gone by I have thought of that lady’s kindness. She had nothing to gain from helping us. She could have ignored us, taken the next bus, and left us there. But she had a servant’s heart.

 

The actions of that teacher remind me of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats “when the Son of Man comes in his glory.” Matthew 25:37 – 40 quotes Jesus as saying:

 

“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? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

 

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (NIV).

 

It is not popular right now to show kindness to refugees from other countries.  They are different from us. But the Lord calls us to be compassionate to everyone, especially strangers and aliens. They cannot pay us back for our help. But be assured, the Master will return and His reward will be with Him. What will He say of us?

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 18:31
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