“And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, then you shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. (Deut. 26:5-13).
Thanksgiving is coming.
It’s the time of year we gather with family and close friends and we celebrate our love together, remembering God’s provision for the early U.S. colonists by the Native Americans.
The Native Americans saw people who were hungry, stranded thousands of miles from their home and everything they knew. And they helped them. They shared what they had with them.
What a powerful image of God’s love and God’s provision! The Native Americans, who did not know Christ, were moved to show the same love God wants for all of us! And which he commanded to the Hebrews thousands of years ago!
Now, some might say, “But that was an extreme circumstance. I’d love to show God’s love that way, too, but who could I possibly do that with? There’s no one around here like that!”
Yes, truly, there is no one at the university campus who is thousands of miles from home, from friends and family, from everything they know.
No, wait. That’s not right. There are lots of people like that on a university campus! There are more than 1,400 of them on the campus of Missouri State University alone, here in what is, in a global perspective, kind of the middle of nowhere!
They may or may not be suffering from hunger, but they are very much alone. They are sojourners, strangers in a strange land.
And just as God commanded the Hebrews to love the aliens among them, God wants you to love the internationals on your campus.
And here is a tremendous opportunity to do just that!
Just as we commemorate the love of the indigenous peoples of North America for some foreigners with a strange religion, funny smell, and totally different way of life, we have a fantastic opportunity to show God’s love to those who are also different from us. We have the opportunity to open our homes just as the Native Americans did, to share our bounty just as they did, and to share our lives just as they did.
So how would you do this?
I’d say step one would be making sure with your family that you can bring an international student home with you. I have never heard of anyone saying no, but you also have to remember it’s not your house and food, but rather your parents’ house and food. You should ask them if it’s all right.
If they say yes, step two is rather easy. Do you have international students in any of your classes? You just go up to them and say, “Hey, do you have any plans for Thanksgiving? My family and I would like to invite you to come have Thanksgiving with us!”
It might be a little awkward, sure. But you know, internationals are not from our culture: for the most part, they’re expecting interactions with us to be awkward. It’s okay.
So it’s that simple: get permission from your family, then invite someone you know. Easy.
But you know, there are other people than just internationals who are sojourners. I went to college 700 miles from home. I did not get to go home for Thanksgiving. Who are the people around you from far away? Who else do you go to class with who doesn’t get to go home? Invite them, too!
This is a time for familial love. Not everyone has that right now. Won’t you give those around you a chance at it?