We just added this meme to our gallery in the IAFR Toolbox. The photo was taken in northern France. IAFR's Paul Sydnor was visiting an abandoned building in which hundreds of homeless asylum-seekers had taken up temporary residence. They had nowhere else to go.
We hope that you will copy and share it widely with your social networks! By doing so, you will be helping create space in the hearts and minds of others for refugees and asylum-seekers in the world. And unless we expand such space within people, we will never seek it expand in our societies.
You probably recognize these to be the words of Jesus (see Matthew 25:31-46). Welcoming the stranger is an indespensible marker in the lives of those who follow Jesus.
What stranger must I welcome?
We sometimes hear people try to put limits on these words of Jesus. Some claim that he was only including fellow Christians within the scope of this statement. But doesn't that sound a lot like the person who once asked Jesus "Who is my neighbor?" (see Luke 10:25-37). Jesus's answer exposed how his question was actually trying to identify who he did not have to love in response to God's command "to love our neighbor as we love ourselves".
When Jesus calls us to welcome strangers into our space, he cannot be understood to be saying we are to somehow only welcome the strangers we already know. Such people are not strangers at all.
Refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people are among the world's most vulnerable strangers. They have been ripped out of their place in the world and are in need of welcome from people to whom they are strangers. And Jesus calls us to make room for them in our spaces and places.
It is by welcoming them that the kingdom of God will grow.