Right in your backyard?

Moving to a new U.S. city, people rarely experience a hearty welcome from their new neighbors. Our new international neighbors may experience even less welcome, but it is in their first months of adjustment that those practicing the 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations can introduce them to a loving God. 

In the ancient text of Leviticus 19:33, God urges us to welcome the foreigner. In my city of Bellevue, Washington, I have clearly seen the opportunity to do so!  The Pacific Northwest region is experiencing a new wave of immigration—predominantly Chinese—and I have the privilege of serving these families by welcoming them to one of our local schools as the international family liaison.

How the Lord led me to this fulfilling role is another story, but today I invite you to join me in my enthusiasm for what I first learned “way back when” as a college student serving in a parachurch ministry. God’s Spirit moves within natural relational networks! Our international neighbors come with a deep experience of community and interdependence, which is fertile ground for God’s Spirit to work. When we serve new neighbors by welcoming them into our homes and our lives, we foster relationships where the Holy Spirit can transform lives. 

Seven years ago, God led a Brazilian family to my school. Denise, the mom, was spiritually hungry and sought out believers at a language school who loved her, listened to her story, and shared God’s story with her. Their love drew Denise right to the heart of our Father!

Fast forward to the fall of 2015 when Q Place regional director Susan Burbank gathered with Denise, me, and another friend who had attended Q Place’s VITAL conference. The result? Denise—a precious and eager believer—now leads the international Q Place Bible study at our school within a supportive Q Place triad!

A native Portuguese speaker, Denise offers God’s Word in English to spiritually curious Chinese parents who can learn English as they discuss the God of the Bible! Denise is no stranger to being spiritually hungry, lonely, and new to a foreign language, but because she was served and welcomed, she now is doing the same with other new internationals!

How about you? 

Just as newcomers continue to arrive in the Pacific Northwest, they are surely moving to your backyard as well. The opportunity to open our doors and our hearts to spiritually hungry people is abundant. They need our help in their transition, and they also long for our welcome.

1 Thessalonians 2:8 says, We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” This is what our Q Place triad has discovered—delight in sharing the gospel with our new international friends, and joy in own lives because they have become so dear to us! 

Let’s join together to serve our neighbors and welcome them into our homes and our hearts.  We can introduce them to the love of God as we listen and learn their stories and watch God’s Spirit work!   

Laura Carlson
Friend of Q Place