Skip to main content
Through the eyes of immigrants and people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, God gives us a mirror and a lens to see ourselves as we truly are.

The only thing I could think was, “Dear Lord, what have we done?” Beside me was my visibly stressed wife holding a newborn baby in each arm. In my arms was a tired, crying toddler exhausted by a long day of travel. In front of me were several customs agents inquisitively rifling through all 15 pieces of our checked luggage. To my right were overly zealous airport valets wheeling our precious carry-on luggage out into the parking lot without permission. And to my left was a customs supervisor holding all our passports and barking unintelligible questions about our customs declaration form. It was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and my bewildered family of American immigrants and I were arriving as missionaries in Haiti, where we knew we did not belong.

Our experiences living abroad have made Hebrews 11:8-10 resonate with me: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country. … For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” The author of Hebrews goes on to remind readers that the people of God have always been “foreigners and strangers on earth” (v. 13).

Our spiritual parents were nomads (Deut. 26:5), and so are we. Yet we often think, speak, and act like we own the place. Whether we are living among downtown skyscrapers or at intersections of gravel country roads, it is human nature to become comfortable, get into ruts, and stop being curious about the diverse people who cross our paths.

In today’s world, immigrants and people of diverse ethnic backgrounds live in almost every community in North America. By getting to know them, we have an opportunity to reconnect with our core Chrsitian identity as spiritual immigrants. Through the eyes of immigrants and people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, God gives us a mirror and a lens to see ourselves as we truly are.

I am so thankful for the Haitian believers who helped me experience my faith and the biblical text from the standpoint of a culture that is much closer to that of Jesus than my own. In the same way, immigrants and believers of diverse backgrounds in our churches can strengthen our faith, hold us accountable, and keep us more connected to God through prayer and worship.

As Christians, our primary identity is not Canadian, American, Latino, Caucasian, Korean, or some other ethnicity or nationality. Our primary identity is Christian. In Christ we are wanderers and aliens on this earth until he returns with our heavenly city to make all things new (Rev. 21:9-14). Though God places us in this world, we are not of this world (John 17:14-16). God’s new creation is yet to come.

One of the best ways to see God’s world-to-come is by building relationships with immigrants and believers of diverse ethnic backgrounds. As we learn to see things through each other’s eyes, the gospel is revealed to us in new ways. In this month’s Our Shared Ministry articles, we will hear stories of diverse believers who challenge us and lead us in faithful mission and ministry. These stories illustrate how God is leading us through the Our Journey 2025 ministry plan to “grow in diversity and unity by seeking justice, reconciliation, and welcome, sharing our faith as we build relationships with and honor the cultures of our neighbors and newcomers.” I am particularly pleased that the story of the Haitian Christian Reformed Church will be highlighted in the following pages.

We Are Counting on You

The Banner is more than a magazine; it’s a ministry that impacts lives and connects us all. Your gift helps provide this important denominational gathering space for every person and family in the CRC.

Give Now