Below are some translated chapters of my book Främlingsvänlig (‘Friend of Strangers’ in English) where I write about this beloved subject of mine. Please feel free to contact me if you want to hear more about this.
I remember how on a hot summer evening in Jerusalem in 2009, my wife Annica and I went down to the Wailing Wall to look for the first three stars in the night sky marking the start of the Jewish Sabbath. Once in place, we were accidentally invited to a rabbi’s sabbath dinner. We walked through the city streets and neighborhoods before arriving at a house filled with both food and happy people. There were so many people that they put in the outdoor furniture in the living room. We sat on white plastic chairs and sang Hebrew praises, listened to the Bible and praised God together.
In the middle of it all, the rabbi stood up and it went quiet. He highlighted a cup of wine and said something in Hebrew. Interesting, I thought, that feels familiar. Then a bowl of water was sent around that we would symbolically wash our hands in. After that, someone gave some freshly baked bread to the rabbi who said something in Hebrew before sending the bread around to everyone.
I know that, I thought! This Jewish ceremony is undeniably quite reminiscent of the Christian Communion. There and then I understood the Jewish context of communion. Since Christianity was born out of Judaism, we can learn a lot about our faith from the Jews. The Lord’s Supper is not just a ceremony, but a real feast with Jesus at its center. A meal where strangers like me are welcome and included in the people of God. Thanks to Jewish hospitality, I got a meeting with God.
A few days later, I was sitting on a hotel roof talking to a Dutchman who wanted to be baptized in the Jordan River. The Arabic scents in the evening breeze were mixed with the neon green lights of the Muslim minarets and the grotesque cacophony of the Tomb Church.
As we chatted about everything between heaven and earth, I began to feel a vision being born in my heart. I began to see how God would send unreached people from closed countries to Europe, and how a revival among them would lead to mission in return.
Ever since I visited Jerusalem, these two experiences of integration and mission – welcoming strangers and reaching out with the gospel to all peoples – have inspired me. I’ve wanted to gather all my thoughts on what the Bible says about strangers and refugees, get them written down and share it with you. But it was first when received news in the spring of 2021 that I had cancer that I finally sat down and started writing. God can use our negative circumstances for something positive. But the more I have studied and written about what the Bible says about refugees, the more of God’s love for the stranger I have seen. Now that I’ve finished writing this book, I feel like I could write at least one more book on the same subject. Almost every biblical person has been a stranger or refugee, even God himself!
I know I’m not the best writer in the world, but my hope is that this book will inspire you to see in the Bible God’s love for the stranger, and that in turn it will lead you to a joyful commitment to people in need.
- Created as a Migrant
- Am I my brother’s keeper?
- Lest we be dispersed
- From Stranger to Guest
- Strangers in the Promised Land
- I will go with you
- Strangers in a country that is not theirs
- Stranger in a foreign country
- God’s Salvation
- The Stranger within Israel
- Your people are my people
- The Sojourner, the Fatherless and the Widow
- The Stranger outside of Israel
- Preach to the Enemy
- Cave of Adullam
- The Loyalty of Ittai
- Open your mouth for the Mute
- Israel violates the Covenant
- But there is a God in heaven
- Flee to Egypt
- The Lord’s Supper
- The Syrophoenician Woman
- The Samaritan Woman
- Love your Brother
- Love your Neighbor
- Love your Enemy
- The Dividing Wall
- Neither Jew nor Greek
- Integration in the first Church
- The Church Leader as a Friend of Strangers
- To All People