Read Luke 19:10 and 1 Timothy 2:3,4 and bear them in mind as you read on.
Over the Easter weekend, my wife and I were guests at an African youth affirmation event and had the privilege of joining hundreds of colourfully dressed and exuberant young people while they encouraged each other – it was full on!
The only other adults present were the local council mayoress and her husband, and it was good to share the experience.
You may know that the children of refugee families face a real challenge to straddle their parent’s world and their new life. Most do amazingly well but family trauma sometimes plays out in heartbreaking ways. When it comes to trauma, African families have experienced more than most and some of the young ones can end up in a really antisocial space. This has surfaced in Melbourne in recent years.
The reason we were at the event was to support our Eritrean friend Hana, who has been doing an amazing job of turning the hearts of young Africans in Adelaide. We met her a couple of years ago when she and her friends asked for help to do something positive with their peers. They were mixing at university with African students from a range of ethnic backgrounds who have a history of conflict back home, and the young people – both Christian and Muslim – wanted to build friendships and be reconciled.
We offered some practical support to Hana and her team, but the most important thing is that she knows we believe in her which gives her the courage to try. The other night the youth leaders showed the power of peer influence and affirmation to call forth hope in the wider group. Hana has made a big difference!
The thing that perhaps makes this story a little different is that Hana is a Muslim, and we feel called to back her to achieve something that has kingdom implications.
Making friends with people like Hana has shown me how God reaches towards people long before they know him. That he is the initiator who calls people from all walks of life and has his own way of revealing himself. Please pray that Hana can come to know Jesus fully.
Read Acts 10:1–20.
Is it possible for someone who is not a Christian (or Jew) to be called ‘devout and God-fearing’?
What was it about Peter’s attitude that made the vision so challenging for him?
Does the passage indicate that God is determined to use his people to reach those who don’t know him yet, irrespective of their background?
Spend some time thinking about whether you share some of Peter’s attitude about people. Do we consciously (or unconsciously) think that God favours some people more than others?
Think about what you can do to better align with God’s love for all mankind.
Read Luke 10:25-37.
Why was Jesus’ decision to choose a Samaritan such a shocking choice for his Jewish audience that day?
If Samaritans in Jesus day were considered to be theologically and morally suspect, what would be a modern equivalent of a Samaritan in our day?
Is there a Hana in your life to whom you should show more respect?
Think about how this might impact our attitude as we go about ‘loving our neighbour’.
Craig Heidenreich is the LCANZ’s manager of Cross-Cultural Ministry.