Welcoming the Stranger
Our second topic to explore in BNG’s Storytelling Projects initiative, Welcoming the Stranger, is a story as old as time. All faith communities and the individuals who make up those communities wrestle with how to be welcoming to those who are different, new, “other,” foreign and the stranger. We recognize that our faith compels us to determine what welcome looks like in modern-day America and to act justly.
Over 100 Bible verses specifically call us to welcome the stranger among us, never mind the hundreds more that reference this faith calling. Perhaps none is more specific than Christ’s words in Matthew 25: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…
In Welcoming the Stranger, we share the inspiring stories of the people and faith communities that are teaching us all to love our neighbor as ourselves.
For the Lost Boys of Sudan and St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. life is best lived when we learn to welcome and love one another. Almost two decades ago, this church embraced the refugees who resettled in their neighborhood fulfilling their mission to be a servant church. In turn, they received love and life lessons from their Dinka friends and now celebrate the launch of a new Sudanese church on their campus.
This series is written by Norman Jameson. Photos are also by Norman Jameson.
What happens when a church in decline decides to embrace the immigrants in its changing neighborhood? Sundays at Gaston Christian Center in Dallas, TX, teems with the colors and languages of Africa, the Far East, Central America and the Middle East. Gaston Oaks Baptist Church once had a membership of 7,000 but now has only 100. However, on any given week, there are 2,000 people on the campus and five worship services are held.
This series is written by Jeff Hampton. Photos are by Allan Akins.
Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. embarked on a sacred pilgrimage to listen, learn and discern how God is calling them as individuals and as a Church to seek justice for America’s immigrants. The group followed the route to Georgia many undocumented immigrants in North Carolina must follow after being detained. These pilgrims had prepared with a year-long study titled ‘Awakening to Immigrant Justice.’
This series is written by Laura Cadena. Photos are by Mackenzie Harris of Faith in Public Life.