Welcoming the Alien

Timothy Nelson

READ : Leviticus 25:35-38

If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. (v. 35 NIV)

A few years ago, there was a news report about a woman who had been held captive as a sex slave for years in a typical American suburb. The neighbors had noticed when this woman “moved in,” but no one ever attempted to speak with her. This was because she was of Latin American heritage. When interviewed, neighbors admitted that they assumed she was an “illegal alien.” When this woman’s slavery was discovered, she said she had always hoped a neighbor would talk to her so she could tip them off to her desperate situation. But no one ever did.

Even if this woman was an undocumented immigrant, the biblical call to reach out in love and support remains. In fact, Leviticus 25 reminds the Israelites to not only help their own neighbors but also to use their resources to help foreigners and strangers! The text assumes that the normal response to seeing someone who feels or looks out of place is to reach out to them in love and hospitality. Think of the years of life that woman might have enjoyed in freedom if her neighbors had stepped forward with a heart of hospitality, rather than one of judgment and assumptions.


Lord, may you always be reminding us that we were once foreigners and that you called us one of your own.