Strangers At The Gate | UMC YoungPeople
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December 2010

Strangers At The Gate

April 2009
By Cletus David

The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant."

"Very well," they answered, "do as you say."

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

"Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him.

"There, in the tent," he said.

Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.

—Genesis 18:1-10

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me." —Revelation 3:20

At the gate of our university, Africa University (AU) in Zimbabwe, there lived two mentally challenged children, both boys. As AU students pass in and out of campus these children are seen laying there from morning to evening, waiting to eat some of the left-over food that would be thrown from the university dining hall.

Last year on December 25, the few international students who did not make it home for vacation during the Christmas holidays collected a Christmas offering for those children, and gave it to the university chaplain. On second thought, the students decided to find out about the family of the brothers. It was discovered that these children had brothers and sisters and that the entire family was barely struggling to live. They received one bucket of maize from a good Samaritan for a whole month. This family was literally starving. Our chaplain brought a report of his findings to our chapel committee and this year we initiated a university-wide campaign to collect money and supplies for the Mandiwanza family. The university community donated generously to these strangers at the gate. It was so touching when the family came to the university worship service to receive the collections. There were bags of maize, toiletries, cooking oil, and money. Two of the Mandiwanza children who are between the ages of 5 and 8 will be sponsored to attain formal education.

When thinking about these children outside AU’s gate, I am reminded of Genesis 18:1-10 and the verse from Revelation. Who are the strangers at our gates and doors? Perhaps it is Jesus coming in a different form into our homes, schools and church communities. Remember, that all of these strangers are the image of God in our midst. Therefore, let’s be aware and mindful. For by receiving them and caring for them, we will be rendering service to God unknowingly, as did Abraham.

Prayer:

Lord, help us to be sensitive to people whom we consider strangers in our community. Amen.

Thought of the Day:
People who need help.

Prayer focus:
The hungry and the homeless.