I learned the other day that around 30% of the folk living around me in my corner of West Auckland are just like me – they were not born in New Zealand.
I am lucky, having come from a culture so similar to this one. English has always been my native tongue, even if my accent betrays my foreignness. But many come from cultures very different to this and are confronted by their 'differentness' every time they try and make themselves understood, or grapple to understand systems and customs that we take for granted.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that immigrants, wrested from the support networks that undergirded their belief systems find themselves in a spiritual 'twilight zone' and are more open to being engaged about the relevance and significance of the Christian faith for their life.
They have greater physical needs too. In normal times, many new immigrants struggle for a foothold; in a recession, high numbers are jobless and face increased hardships.
What can the church do about this mission field all around us? How about a door-knocking campaign with a bit of a difference?
I found this article from the Washington Post fascinating reading, and I was struck by how the church could be at the forefront of us loving our immigrant neighbours in this way.
Howard Webb, ed.