Do you know what it feels like to be considered a stranger because of your religion? I do because I was raised Pentecostal when Pentecostal wasn’t cool. My ancestors all experienced the pain of rejection due to their religion. Nearly 300 years ago my ancestors on both sides of my family left their country of origin to find religious freedom. They headed to America, the land of religious freedom.
My mother’s fifth great-grandfather, Melchoir Detweiler, left Switzerland and brought his family to America on the St Augusta ship. They arrived on September 16, 1736, in Philadelphia, the City of brotherly love! What an appropriate place for a stranger to come to. America welcomed the Anabaptist Mennonites with open arms.
My father’s fifth great-grandfather, John Martin Bontrager, brought his family to America on a ship called Sally. His wife died in route. They arrived on October 5, 1767, in Philadelphia and located in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. In Germany, the Amish couldn’t own land because they didn’t believe in infant baptism (Anabaptist). They were marginalized, and ostracized and risked life and limb to come to a land of freedom of religion and commerce.
Christians should know the heart of a stranger. People today don’t want to go to church because they often feel they will be judged. They have the perception that God and his people expect them to be perfect.
Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”
How we treat others is a reflection of how we truly love Jesus.
I believe God sends people to us to see how we will treat them. There is something powerful about opening my heart to a stranger.
For more on this topic, listen to the podcast, “Love the Stranger.”