Ordinary French

Amy Clemens

Read: Exodus 23:1-13

You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the soul [the feelings, thoughts, and concerns] of a stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt. (v. 9 AMP)

Recently, a trip to the east coast took me across several Canadian provinces. Driving across Quebec, I became hyper-aware of my lack of even basic French. Soon, signs were foreign, gas was measured in liters, and distance in kilometers. Prices meant little as I struggled to apply what I knew of exchange rates. As if that weren’t enough, my cell phone GPS stopped working at the border, it was raining, night was on me, and I was alone. When I got to the exit for my hotel, it was closed, sortie fermée, and I felt a little panicky. Then I remembered the GPS navigation device my husband had suggested I bring, and thankfully it worked, in English.

I still can’t smile about the experience because I am embarrassed and humbled. Although I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, the experience reminded me that God has said we are strangers and sojourners on this earth (Heb. 11:13). Uncomfortable is the status quo. I also thought about how the language of my faith sounds strange to those who don’t share it. The hospitality practiced toward me in Quebec as I wrestled with a few ordinary French words reminds me that the world needs kindness, too, as they encounter a faith foreign to them. —Amy Clemens

As you pray, ask God to help you practice hospitality toward strangers. Ask for words that make sense to those who don’t speak the language of faith.