Strangers, Students and you

Dear BPCWAians, Last week, we kicked off our University Campus Outreaches. Every year, BPCWA reaches out to the students in our neighbouring Universities to invite them to join us for our Worship Services and our Fellowship activities, and to speak to them about the gospel.

Campus Outreach. Uniquely, God has placed this particular service in our hands for us to serve Him here. Many of our adult and young adult worshippers were also introduced to BPCWA through such outreaches. Some in our midst, having been invited to church when they first came over as international students, have come to be saved after hearing the gospel and learning God’s Word here. But for many, as you read of these announcements about our Campus Outreach programs, do you feel that this is a “student fellowship” activity that bears no relation to you? However, if we do think that this ministry has, over the years, been a key ministry that God has given to BPCWA thus far, then all of us must also strive together to see what we can do to support this work that God has given to the church, because it is God’s work for us. You can also help out, even if you cannot come to the Orientation Day outreaches with us.

Hospitality is a Christian duty. Before Israel went into the Promised Land to be a unique testimony for God as a Jewish nation established by God, the LORD reminded them “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Lev 19:34). The previous slaves in Egypt were reminded of the ill-treatment that they had received at the hands of the Egyptians. Soon, they were going have land and comfortable homes in Israel. God reminded them that the “good life” that they would soon enjoy was because the LORD cared for them. Now, in grateful remembrance, Israel was to practically respond to God’s goodness by extending compassion and kindness to Gentiles that would come to live in Israel. Some of these, such as Ruth the Moabitess, would in time trust in the same LORD and adopt the Jewish faith.

I am sure that many of us can also relate to this. Many of us, or our families, have immigrated to Australia or Perth from other lands. Many have related stories to me of how it was when they first came to Perth. Why their families came to Perth and brought them along when they were young. How different Perth was from their home countries. How they had to adjust to the different way of life here from what they were used to back home. When they first came, they were strangers in this land. Life was new, uncertain, different. Perhaps you received some help, or perhaps you didn’t. But you certainly realise how appreciative you would have been of any welcome or help or advice you would have received when you first arrived. So, to you, is the reminder – as the LORD has been gracious to help you, now, when you see international students or families settle into our church, you have a duty also to these “strangers”. Let us treat them as we would want our daughter or son to be treated in a foreign land. They are not merely “someone else’s children”. Yes, they may have come from a different country from you. Or they may not even speak your language very well. But they are your Heavenly Father’s children, and you should love them as family. This is a covenantal duty we have to them. When God works, He works through people. God demonstrates His care for His people when we care for one other.

Not social work. We are to give “to the necessity of saints” (Rom 12:13). Social organisations may disburse scholarships and bursaries to students, but Christian duty does not expect us to pay or sponsor the university fees simply for those seeking a better life through overseas studies, since these are not necessities. Neither is Christian hospitality about handouts. The church does not freely offer meals to all students. When Christ performed the miracles of the loaves and fishes, it was not in the market place to all who were hungry, but to those who came to hear Him (Matt 14:15, 15:32). What we do as a church must always be directed towards a spiritual purpose and aim. Our efforts are not to turn their eyes upon us for help, but upon our covenantal Lord. He who has been with us will also be faithful to them, if they trust and follow Him. Our Welcome Dinner allows us to get to know them so we know their challenges and how to encourage them spiritually, before finishing off with a Gospel Meeting. Beach Games is a time that allows us to build relationships with them in order to help us keep in contact with them and invite them further to church.

How do you help them? What can you do? There are many aspects of hospitality that you can show to students, and we will discuss some of these next week.

Out in the highway sand by ways of life,

Many are weary and sad;

Carry the sunshine where darkness is

rife, Making the sorrowing glad.

Give as’twas given to you in your need,

Love as the Master loved you;

Be to the helpless a helper indeed,

Unto your mission be true.

Yours in our Lord’s service