I was a stranger and you welcomed me.Matthew 25:35b
“Lord of the Rings?! I LOVE Lord of the Rings!” My new friend Camila was practically jumping up and down in her seat with excitement over our mutual interest. Camila, Brenda, and Grayce were just three of the student aides from our morning Portuguese classes, who joined our Roberts group on our campus tour. In fact, I got to spend much of today with them. They eagerly included me at their table when I arrived at the university an hour before our first activity, and before long most of our class was laughing together over American and Brazilian slang.
Later, we all enjoyed the snacks offered to us by several dentistry students at the university. “You have tasted salgados!” the students said. “You are Brazilian now.” Which, oddly enough, is what our capoeira instructor graciously told us after our workshop yesterday. “You have tried capoeira!” he said. “You are Brazilian now.”
I realize I am far from really being Brazilian. Although I still have so much to learn about their culture, not one person I’ve met has treated me like an outsider or kept me at arm’s length. Instead, they welcomed me as their friend, even though I’ve done nothing to deserve it. To welcome undeserving strangers—well, isn’t that how Christ did it?
I am overwhelmed by everyone’s warmth in welcoming our class with open arms. After all, we’re strangers to them—and I can’t count the number of strangers I’ve ignored without a second thought. But Brenda, Camila, Grayce, the dentistry students, and our capoeira instructor all went out of their way to make us feel welcome and included by teaching, feeding, and talking to us. If that’s not hospitality, I don’t know what is.
See, my pastor has been teaching me about unity lately, how all believers belonging to Christ need to be one through the Father in order to share the Gospel with the world. This precious unity—the kindness, acceptance, welcome, and hospitality for strangers expressed by everyone I’ve met in Brazil—is the love of Christ.
This humbling and beautiful hospitality is a lesson I hope to take home with me.