We should welcome the stranger
Anna Heydon reminds us of the importance of extending a hand of welcome and friendship to the stranger in our communities.
I remember when I first moved to Great Yarmouth. I had only moved a hundred miles, but I didn’t know anyone, and had to adapt to a new job, new house, new town. It was challenging learning my way around, getting used to a different work environment and settling in to new accommodation.
But with time and developing friendships I became well-established and rooted in an area I now love and call home. I’m particularly grateful to the people who made the effort to welcome me, get to know me and support me during my early weeks and months.
Settling in a new place can be hard, especially when not only is the location unfamiliar but also the language and culture. I think this is one of the reasons that the Bible pays particular concern to how God’s people treat those who are from other countries.
In Leviticus 19 (v34) God says to the people of Israel “when a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” God reminds them and us of our shared humanity and encourages not only tolerance but love.
Whatever our views on immigration and politics, we can all recognise the humanity and worth of the person in front of us. Every person who arrives in our town is an individual with a life story to tell, a story which is often thought-provoking, inspiring or challenging. Being in a position to offer a hand of welcome and friendship offers the opportunity to be a positive part of that story. My life has been so greatly enriched by friendships with people from all over the world who have helped me learn new information, new languages, new ways of thinking.
Great Yarmouth Place of Welcome, pictured above, opened its doors for the first time on Thursday January 30. It will continue to open each Thursday morning, from 10am to 12 noon, at St George's Theatre Cafe, welcoming people from every circumstance, language and cultural background to come and meet together. They will feel welcomed, valued and safe as well as enjoying a free tea or coffee!
Maybe you could come and join us. You would be very welcome.
Read about the opening of the Yarmouth Place of Welcome on Network Norfolk here.
The picture above is courtesy of Imagine Norfolk Together.
This article first appeared at: https://imaginenorfolktogether.org.uk
Anna Heydon is Development Worker for Imagine Norfolk Together in Great Yarmouth, a joint venture between the Diocese of Norwich and the Church Urban Fund, a national organisation set up by the Church of England to combat unmet needs in communities.
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