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I am an immigrant. I am also a descendant of slaves taken from West Africa in the 1800s. As a member of both these groups, I share a heritage common to many in North America.

I’ve experienced both the pain and the joy that come from understanding stories from my past and reflecting on how these realities affect my present. There is much to lament, but also much to celebrate.

In my case, my unique stories led me to the Christian Reformed Church. The stories include a myriad of individuals who left their own comfort zones to follow God’s will and tell of God’s good news. The stories include that of a young African American evangelist who became a missionary to my former country, Guyana. The stories also include that of a young family who were members of a local Christian Reformed Church in New Jersey and who reached out to their neighbors in love, shared a meal, shared Christ, and offered child care.

I’m sure many of us have similar stories. Some of our stories are painful; others helped us get through the pain. When we reflect on our life stories, it often becomes clear that God had a bigger plan in mind. In fact, we recognize that in all things God is able to do God’s will through us, to bring about the fullness of God’s kingdom. Romans 8:28 says it best: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

In this time of uncertainty and crisis, this time when it is easy to give way to fear, I’m reminded that it is often in such difficult times that God gives us opportunities to demonstrate the reality of God’s kingdom and shows us that God continues to be with us in the midst of our circumstances.

In this issue, we reflect on stories of immigrants and on how God’s kingdom includes all of us. God continually reminds us to take care of and love the immigrant among us. By so doing, we demonstrate our love for Christ.

May God continue to give us opportunities to tangibly love our neighbors, including the immigrants and those who cannot help themselves, especially in this time.

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