Sunday, June 01, 2008

Welcoming the Stranger

Last week I was in the Tesco Lisburn store getting in some groceries. A regular part of the routine. Mum always complains when things are moved around the store, as she then forgets some essentials, not seeing them on the traditional route through the shop. I noticed last week that the back wall has been taken over by a new section called 'World Foods.' A major element is a whole variety of Polska (Polish) foods, as well as other cultures and countries.

Is Tesco trying to cut off the small food stores that rise up where there are significant numbers of immigrants in one area, supplying familiar food from home, tastes that they are used to? As Tesco would say, 'every little helps' to make the foreigners feel at home. Plus, it will boost their profits as well.

It got me thinking, though. If business like Tesco are going out of their way to make foreigners feel at home and to build up community, then what is the Church doing about it? No matter who you talk to, from across Northern Ireland, they have stories of the immigrant communities in every town and village. Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, etc.

These are people who need to hear of Jesus just as much as the Northern Ireland born and bred people. What are we going to do about it?

Could we start English language classes to help people learn the lingo and be able to understand natives better? Could we make available Bibles, books and tracts in their own languages? Could we have a drop-in to help them, and to help them see that the Church is a place of warmth and welcome?

Just a few ideas. In the past, Ireland was a source of missionary endeavour, whether it be Saint Columba or Saint Gall in the 5th century or so, or the misionaries with CMS and other mission agencies. Now, the world is coming to Ireland. Mission fields are on our doorstep. What are going to do about it?

1 comment :

  1. did ye ever ask her what was in that aisle before the store opened like... three years ago? ;)