The world has come to North America… and that includes Red Deer, Alberta. We believe this is much more than coincidental. Our God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. He desires that the nations hear the gospel—nations that he brought to the world, into our neighborhoods, our towns, and our cities.
Samir came to Red Deer fleeing the ravages of war in South Sudan. He is an ambitious, happy and athletic young man who arrived hoping to attend college and eventually study medicine. But first Samir needed to improve his English skills. That’s where our lives intersected and ministry began. He came to a resource center in downtown Red Deer, where my wife agreed to mentor him in English. Week after week they would read works like Hamlet or Tuesdays With Morrie, writing paragraphs and papers in proper academic style. Because of their relationship, Samir was able to share the pain of recent tragedies with us. The loss of his father and brother and the serious reaction of a friend to illicit drugs have opened his heart to the comfort of caring Christian friends. We believe he is very near to the kingdom of God.
Cindy also came to the resource center for help with English. A recent newcomer from China, she wrestled with some of the terminology. One day, during a discussion about the months of the year, the teacher shared that her favorite month was April. Their anniversary was in April and often so was Easter. Cindy had never heard of Easter. So, in a Christ-centered yet non-threatening way, Cindy heard the whole story of Christmas and Easter for the very first time. What a privilege to listen, to pray, to share and to watch God at work in people’s lives!
Dadi and Nisha spent well over a decade in a refugee camp in Namibia. They came to know Jesus as their Savior early in their lives and have a beautiful faith. They have a good command of the English language. Their greatest need is for safe and loving childcare because Dadi works long hours and Nisha is studying at college. What fun to help fill a few of the gaps with love and care! They are part of our family in Christ who need encouragement and blessing as they settle into this new country.
I am sure you have stories that are similar. Newcomers from a foreign land are your neighbors, your classmates, and your fellow workers. Although their cultures may differ remarkably from ours, they need friendship and welcome. All the people around us, whether new or old, need the “gospel neighboring” that Jesus expressed in the story of the good Samaritan. This approach to welcoming the world has stretched us, convicted us and blessed us beyond measure.
To God be the glory!
REV. HAROLD RUST is Church-Planting Pastor at The River in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.