“Velkom Xhom!” I was greeted by the immigration officer at Los Angeles airport. Obviously he was of Russian decent, very recent decent. I was already being hit with culture shock.
As I exited the plane, a whole line of Filipinos, all speaking Tagalog, greeted the plan looking for old people to put in their wheel chairs. My ride to the church, by way of an Indian man, was very comfortable and friendly. He is an elder in the church. California has more recent immigrants, especially Asians and Hispanics, than any place in the United States I think. Their governor was even born in Austria!
My next stop was Charlotte, NC. I was looking forward to the great city which I heard was a beautiful place, a center of banking and sports. On arrival I wasn’t too impressed. I think the airport last got upgraded in 1970 or so. Here, all I needed was a few quarters to call the driver to come and pick me up. He was supposed to be there already, but this is “American Service”, not “Asian Service”. The difference is vast, but I’ll save that for another blog. So I started asking people for help to get some quarters. First I tried to ask people at the rental car counters. No luck, no help. None of them spoke English like I was used to. Then a guy in dread-locks came up to me and said something. I had no idea what it was. That was Ebonics. Finally I found a nice southern lady, who introduced herself as “Mrs. Happy”. I explained that I just need to make a phone call. She said, “no problem, follow me. I’ll let you use the phone in my office.” Finally, I met a friendly person who was helpful. I am an alien in my own home country.
You know in the Bible there is much to say about foreigners and their relation to Israel. One interesting aspect concerns the building of Solomon’s temple.
Because most of us read the Bible in “scan” mode, many times we miss a lot of details. You know from reading the Bible that King David wanted to build a temple to God, but Solomon was the one who completed it.
Now the “trick” question: Do you know one of the key reasons why David and Solomon wanted to build the temple? Ok, brace yourselves. It was actually evangelistic. David and Solomon wanted the temple to attract people from all over the world to worship God. When King Solomon dedicated the temple, he prayed: 41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name [God]— 42 for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.” (1 Kings 8:41-43)
Immediately after the dedication, the very first thing the Bible mentions is that the Queen of Sheba came because she heard of the temple with its splendor and the wisdom of Solomon. She was drawn to God and Ethiopia was one of the first nations to come to God. The temple was used to draw people to God.
God made Solomon a promise. That if he followed all of God’s laws that he would keep his descendants on the throne forever, but also he said: 19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’” (1 Chronicles 7:19-21) From Solomon, the national of Israel quickly went away from God and was lost as a nation.
America has drawn millions of immigrants. Why do they come? For freedom of religion? No, they come to worship the almighty dollar! What a massive temple we have built. What happens when American faces the same fate as Solomon’s temple. We all need to be doing as much as we can to bring people to God and not being so proud of what we once built. As America is a nation that attracts immigrants from every nation, it is our responsiblity as Americans to do everything possible to bring them to Christ.