Back in 2009 after the Sunday service two African refugees approached the pastor, “We’re looking for a place to hold church services.” Method Birgirimana from Burundi took the lead, “Might you have a place outside?” His friend was from a refugee camp in Tanzania, and they had both been transplanted to Texas. David Daniels, the Pastor of Pantego Bible Church, didn’t find them a place outside. Instead, he helped coordinate some inside space for them and 150 refugees showed up for worship. So in 2015 when a Muslim family fleeing Syria showed up desperate for help, Daniels had already decided whether or not he and his church family would obey the Apostle Paul’s command that spiritual leaders must be “lovers of strangers” (1 Timothy 3: 2). He helped the Syrians get settled in Fort Worth.
In the present political climate and the growing fear of outsiders, Daniels’ choice generates heated debate. Some have left his congregation over his passion to help. If we live in the text of Acts, what did our Lord do about a real religious terrorist in the first century? How did he use an insider to welcome an outsider?
“Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’
‘Here I am, Lord. ‘
‘Get up and go to the street named Straight and look in the house of Judah for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He’s there praying and he’s seen a man named Ananias coming and placing his hands upon him so that he can see again.’
‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I’ve heard from many about this man. He’s done cruel things against Your saints in Jerusalem. And he’s come here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all those calling upon Your Name.’
‘Go,’ the Lord said, ‘because he’s a chosen instrument for me to carry my Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the Sons of Israel. For I have shown to him what he must suffer on account of my Name.’
So Ananias left and entered the house and placed his hands on Saul. ‘Saul, brother, the Lord sent me to you—Jesus, the one you saw while you were traveling on the road—so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’
Immediately, it was like scales fell from his eyes and he could see. He got up, was baptized, and after receiving some food, he regained his strength.” Acts 9:10-19
LORD, encourage my brother as he and his church family continue to welcome outsiders and show them that your family doesn’t have any national or racial barriers. Like you removed fear from Ananias’ heart, remove the fear that blocks me from opening my heart to outsiders so that they can become insiders in your Family.
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