By Ryan Shaw
The last of the six roles in the Great Commission is that of being a welcomer. As mentioned, every born again believer has at least one of the six roles. Most believers will have several of them. Yet all of us have a dominant role that stands out.
“Welcoming” as a Great Commission role is growing in emphasis today. This is due to the historic levels of migration globally right now. Much of this migration is chosen (people moving about to better their lives, etc) while much of it is forced upon people due to wars, dangers, persecutions and other global crises.
The current global migration shake up has brought unreached and unengaged people groups to our cities. No longer does one need to travel around the world to find unreached people groups. They are now in our neighborhoods and universities. This is true in Asia, Africa as well as the west.
Though this is causing great concern in the political and social realms, believers with an eye towards the ways of God see His hand moving to enable His body to be a channel of the Gospel of the Kingdom among these precious ones.
People who have been forced from their homes and living in a foreign environment are in crisis. As a result they are much more open to Truth then they would be in the comfort and ease of their own environment. They are seeking a new beginning, better education, safety and economic security.
In addition, they often come from countries where there is little freedom to share the gospel. They have likely never heard the Truth about Jesus and His Kingdom in a way they can culturally understand. They have heard about Christianity and skewed ideas of Jesus since they were young but not in Truth.
The Holy Spirit is behind this global shake-up. He is orchestrating it toward the end of many of these unreached people building friendships with true believers, coming to saving faith and becoming a person of peace in their communities for the sake of the Kingdom.
“Welcomers” see this opportunity and capitalize on it. They choose not to be afraid of people different from them but instead embrace and befriend them, building trust and naturally revealing the Gospel of the Kingdom over time.
Welcomers allow the Spirit to emphasize people in their midst with whom to build relationships. Maybe these are on a university campus, in an office or in a refugee camp.
They welcome those individuals to get to know them. In doing so the visitors are watching the believers. Over time the life, choices and responses of the believer is what stands out.
Most newcomers to our cities and nations want to feel welcomed and cared for in their new environment. They tend to come from cultures where community and taking care of each other is common and expected.
When believers reach out in this way a listening ear is often gained. Newcomers are often surprised to learn the Truth about believers and the God they believe in. They have often only thought the worst of “Christians” based on misinformation and outright deception.
We know many stories where welcoming has happened with great success while also hearing of many opportunities lost due to fear and misunderstanding other people.
When believers buy into the prevailing cultural mindset that certain cultures are to be feared, we lose the power of the Kingdom culture we are meant to live with. Instead we want to treat all cultures with the respect, dignity and love God places upon them as His creation.
The Biblical standard is that the people of God are those welcoming strangers and foreigners, making them feel at home while away from their own home. We find this idea throughout the Old Testament and affirmed in the New.
The New Covenant gives it a twist, however, by teaching that believers are now to see themselves as “strangers in the world.” In this way we can more easily empathize with those from other cultures living in our environments.
Since our true home is not on earth we understand some measure of what they are going through as those living in a country outside of their home.
What are some practical ways believers can act as welcomers? Open your home to a foreign national to live with your family or stay a few nights. Make an effort to learn a few phrases of their language.
Invite them to meals or social gatherings in your home or your church. Visit them in their homes or residential areas. Help them get settled into their new city – getting around and getting the basics for living.
Start a small group for the international students on campus. Have them in your home to talk about the challenges of living away from their home country. Volunteer to teach English.