I am a hometown girl—lived most of my life in the same square mile. I moved in 2nd grade and stayed. My mom worked for the local school system, and my dad was an elder at the local church. I didn’t really know any strangers. Somehow, everyone knew me… I even eventually married someone whom attended elementary school with me.
A few years after being married, my husband was offered a position in Detroit, Michigan. It is only a 5-hour drive from Indianapolis, but I loved my job, our house, our friends, and our church. We had seemed to settle into a great community. I loved living close to our parents. Plus, I was expecting our first child. It all seemed safe and familiar.
After prayer and consideration, we moved to Detroit in late October of that year. We found a home and introduced ourselves to our new neighbors. We quickly noticed that the Detroit area is very transient. It seemed people were friendly, but not really that interested in us. They were used to people not staying that long, so it seemed unnatural to establish “real” relationships. We found a home church by the middle of November. However, I still felt very unsettled—even scared. This was my first time in different surroundings where I wasn’t known.
About 3 months after we moved, our first child decided to arrive eight weeks early—eight weeks early in a city where we really were strangers in what seemed like a foreign land. During all this chaos and stress is where we saw Jesus. When my husband got the call that the baby was arriving, he did not have his car with him. Someone that he recently started working with offered him their car. When we sped into the emergency room, the nurse assured us that even though we hadn’t taken any “baby classes” and didn’t know them, they were experts. They had our backs. One of our first visitors was one of the women that we had just met at church and she brought preemie clothes, pacifiers, and a book on newborns. One neighbor offered to drive me 45 minutes every day to the NICU where our son had to stay—after I was released to go home and couldn’t drive. Another new friend set up meals for us.
So, there we were, strangers in our own foreign land, seeing Jesus through people we barely knew. Their love was sincere. Their love was action. They truly lived out Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Even though I felt like a stranger, Jesus had used the few people that we had met to do His work—to help us feel known. Jesus knows all of us. It’s up to us to make sure that we can take His love and share it.
I hope and pray that I can be that same type of welcoming person to the strangers God puts in my life so we can all feel known and loved.