ODJ: Crossing Cultural Divides

September 26, 2017 

READ: Ruth 2:1-18 

I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done (vv.11-12).

The Institute of International Education revealed that more than one million international students studied in American universities and colleges during the 2015-16 academic year. As a former international student myself, I know how difficult it is to enter a different culture, to learn to communicate in another language and to experience culture shock and homesickness. I also know how wonderful it feels to be welcomed and loved by believers in Jesus from a local community.

The story of Ruth is a beautiful illustration of God’s people caring for outsiders. Ruth was a foreigner in Israel who had travelled from her homeland of Moab to the land of Israel (Ruth 1:6-7). Although her circumstances were different from an international student, she had taken a huge risk to travel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to her homeland and join her people (v.16). Moreover, Ruth was a citizen of a nation that had experienced hostility with Israel in the past. So the potential for her to be treated badly was even greater than for some foreigners.

Yet God was aware of her situation. Each step of the way He placed the right people in her path so that Ruth would be welcomed and loved. Upon her arrival, Ruth worked hard gathering grain in the fields owned by Boaz. He was a wealthy man and also a relative of Ruth’s deceased father-in-law. He showed amazing kindness and hospitality to Ruth even though she was a foreigner (2:8-10).

Immigrants, refugees and international students with many needs and challenges are present in our communities. As God provides for us, may we use this God-given opportunity to show the same kindness and hospitality that Boaz showed Ruth.

—Estera Pirosca Escobar

365-day-plan: Luke 23:32-49

Read Deut. 10:17-19 and notice God’s attitude towards foreigners and consider what He wants our attitude to be. 
What foreigners are in your community? How can you cross cultural divides and engage with the strangers next door?