“Do not forget kindness to strangers.”—HEBREWS 13:2, footnote.
1, 2. (a) What challenges do many foreigners have today? (See opening picture.) (b) What reminder did the apostle Paul give, and what questions will we consider?
MORE than 30 years ago, Osei, who was not yet one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, left his home in Ghana to live in Europe. (See endnote.) He says: “I soon realized that most people did not care about me. The climate was also quite a shock. When I left the airport and felt the cold for the first time in my life, I started crying.” Because it was difficult for Osei to learn the language, it took him over a year to find a good job. And because he was far away from home, he missed his family and felt alone.
2 Think about how you would like to be treated if you were in a similar situation. Certainly you would be grateful to receive a warm welcome at the Kingdom Hall from people who love you no matter your nationality or skin color. In fact, the Bible tells true Christians not to “forget kindness to strangers.” (Hebrews 13:2, footnote) So let us consider the following questions: How does Jehovah feel about strangers? Do we need to adjust our feelings toward strangers? And how can we help someone from another country to feel welcome in our congregation?
HOW JEHOVAH VIEWS STRANGERS
3, 4. According to Exodus 23:9, how did God want the Israelites to treat foreigners, and why?
3 After Jehovah freed his people from slavery in Egypt, he gave them laws that taught them to show kindness toward the foreigners who left with them. (Exodus 12:38, 49; 22:21) Since life is not always easy for foreigners, Jehovah lovingly cared for them. For example, they could glean food that the harvesters left behind.—Leviticus 19:9, 10.
4 Rather than just command the Israelites to respect foreigners, Jehovah wanted them to remember how it felt to be a foreigner. (Read Exodus 23:9.) Even before the Israelites became slaves in Egypt, the Egyptians did not like them because they were different. (Genesis 43:32; 46:34; Exodus 1:11-14) The Israelites had a hard life as foreigners. Jehovah wanted them to remember that and to be kind to the foreigners who were living among them.—Leviticus 19:33, 34.
Jehovah shows kindness to foreigners
5. What will help us to show kindness to foreigners as Jehovah does?
5 Jehovah has not changed. So when foreigners come to our congregation, we should not forget that Jehovah still shows kindness to such people. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Malachi 3:5, 6) Stop and think about the challenges foreigners may have. For example, they may not understand the new language and may be treated unfairly. Let us make an effort to help them and to be kind to them.—1 Peter 3:8.
DO WE NEED TO ADJUST OUR VIEW OF STRANGERS?
6, 7. What showed that early Jewish Christians learned to overcome strong prejudices?
6 The early Christians learned to overcome strong prejudices that were common among the Jews. At Pentecost of the year 33, Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem showed hospitality to and loving concern for new ones from different countries. (Acts 2:5, 44-47) This showed that the Jewish Christians understood the meaning of “hospitality,” that is, “kindness to strangers.”
7 During that time, however, something happened. Greek-speaking Jews complained that their widows were not being treated fairly. (Acts 6:1) To solve the problem, the apostles chose seven men to go and make sure that everyone would be treated fairly. The apostles chose men with Greek names, perhaps to make the widows feel more comfortable.—Acts 6:2-6.
8, 9. (a) What questions will help us find out whether we are prejudiced? (b) What must we get rid of? (1 Peter 1:22)
8 Whether we realize it or not, we are all deeply influenced by our culture. (Romans 12:2) Also, we may hear our neighbors, workmates, or schoolmates say bad things about people of another background, tribe, or skin color. How deeply are we influenced by such negative ideas? Or how do we react when someone makes fun of our nationality or some part of our culture?
9 There was a time when the apostle Peter was prejudiced against people who were not Jewish. But gradually he learned to get rid of such negative feelings. (Acts 10:28, 34, 35; Galatians 2:11-14) Similarly, if we notice even a trace of prejudice or racial pride in us, we should work hard to get rid of it completely. (Read 1 Peter 1:22.) What can help us to do that? Remember that all of us are imperfect, no matter what country we come from, and none of us deserve salvation. (Romans 3:9, 10, 21-24) So we have no reason to feel that we are better than anyone else! (1 Corinthians 4:7) We should feel as the apostle Paul did. He told his fellow Christians that they were “no longer strangers and foreigners” but were “members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) We all need to work hard to get rid of any prejudice so that we can put on the new personality.—Colossians 3:10, 11.
HOW TO SHOW KINDNESS TO STRANGERS
10, 11. How did Boaz imitate Jehovah’s view of strangers?
10 The faithful man Boaz imitated Jehovah’s view of strangers. How so? When Boaz went to inspect his fields during the harvest, he noticed Ruth, a foreign woman from the land of Moab. She was working hard to pick up grain from the ground. Under the Mosaic Law, Ruth had the right to glean. But when Boaz heard that she had asked for permission to glean in his field, he was deeply impressed and allowed her to glean even among the bundles of grain.—Read Ruth 2:5-7, 15, 16.
11 What happened next clearly shows that Boaz was concerned about Ruth and her difficult situation as a foreigner. He invited her to stay with his group of young women so that she would not be mistreated by the men working in the field. He even made sure that she would get enough food and water, just like his own workers. Boaz showed respect for this poor foreign woman and encouraged her.—Ruth 2:8-10, 13, 14.
12. What effect can kindness have on strangers?
12 Boaz showed kindness to Ruth not only because of her loyal love for her mother-in-law, Naomi, but also because Ruth had begun serving Jehovah and looked to Him for protection. When Boaz was kind to her, he was actually imitating Jehovah’s loyal love. (Ruth 2:12, 20; Proverbs 19:17) Similarly today, when we are kind, we may be able to help “all sorts of people” learn the truth and see that Jehovah loves them very much.—1 Timothy 2:3, 4.
13, 14. (a) Why should we greet strangers at the Kingdom Hall? (b) What can help you to feel comfortable speaking to someone from another culture?
13 We can show kindness to strangers by warmly greeting them at the Kingdom Hall. Immigrants who have recently arrived in a country may sometimes feel shy and stay by themselves. Because of their culture or their social status, they may feel inferior to people from another race or nationality. So we should greet them first and show kind and sincere interest in them. If available in your language, the JW Language app can help you learn how to say a greeting in their language.—Read Philippians 2:3, 4.
14 You may feel uncomfortable about speaking to someone from another culture. To overcome those feelings, you can tell him something about yourself. You may then see that you have more things in common than you thought. Remember that each culture has its own strengths and weaknesses.
HELP ALL TO FEEL WELCOME
15. What will help us to understand those who are getting used to a new country?
15 To help others feel welcome in the congregation, honestly ask yourself, ‘If I were in a foreign country, how would I want to be treated?’ (Matthew 7:12) Be patient with those who are adjusting to a new country. At first, we may not fully understand their way of thinking or reacting. But rather than expect them to think and act like people from our culture, why not accept them just the way they are?—Read Romans 15:7, footnote.
Be patient with those who are adjusting to a new country
16, 17. (a) What can we do to feel closer to those from another culture? (b) What practical help can we give to immigrants in our congregation?
16 If we take time to learn about the country and culture of foreigners, it may be easier for us to get to know them. During our family worship, we could do some research about the culture of immigrants in our congregation or territory. Another way to get closer to immigrants is to invite them for a meal in our home. Jehovah has “opened to the nations the door to faith,” so we should imitate him and open our home to strangers who are “related to us in the faith.”—Acts 14:27; Galatians 6:10; Job 31:32.
17 When we spend time with a family who immigrated, this will help us to understand and value their efforts to adjust to our culture. We may see that they need help to learn the language. We might also direct them to organizations that can help them find a good home or a job. Such practical help may make a big difference for our brothers and sisters.—Proverbs 3:27.
18. What example of respect and gratitude can immigrants imitate today?
18 Immigrants, of course, will want to do their best to adjust to the culture of the new country. Ruth set a good example in this area. First, she showed respect for the customs of her new country by asking permission to glean. (Ruth 2:7) She did not take this right for granted or feel that others owed her something. Second, she was quick to tell others that she was thankful for the kindness shown to her. (Ruth 2:13) When immigrants show a similar fine attitude, their brothers and sisters and other local people will be more likely to respect them.
19. What reasons do we have to make strangers feel welcome?
19 We are so happy that Jehovah has shown undeserved kindness and allowed all people to hear the good news. In their home country, some may not have been able to study the Bible or go to meetings with Jehovah’s people. But now that they have the opportunity to meet with us, we should help them so that they will not feel like strangers. We may not have a lot of money or be able to provide much practical help, but when we are kind to foreigners, we imitate Jehovah’s love for them. As “imitators of God,” then, let us do our very best to welcome strangers among us!—Ephesians 5:1, 2.
 (paragraph 1) Name has been changed.