A Word About Welcome

A Word About Welcome

“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” – Proverbs22:6

As the day was approaching for Iman, our exchange student from Gaza, to arrive, Bri and I began coaching our girls about what to expect and how to behave. We brainstormed a lot of suggestions to make sure Iman had the space she needed to settle in and become comfortable as part of our family. 

The moment Iman arrived, however, it became apparent that our coaching had fallen on deaf ears. She was barely out of the car before the girls were showering her with hugs and having her go and draw with chalk on the sidewalk with them. The whole rest of that day, they didn’t want to leave her side. They helped her unpack her room and asked all sorts of questions and helped her to figure out where things were in the house. Even though we kept trying to create opportunities for Iman to enjoy some privacy, she kept engaging and playing with the girls.

We, adults, wanted to make sure Iman was comfortable and had her own space, but our kids had their own idea of what it meant to be a part of our family. They knew, somehow, what she needed, perhaps what she was missing most from her home and family in Gaza: the laughter and the joy of children. 

I’m reminded again that, no matter how crazy they might make us, our children have really good hearts. Michaela started third-grade last week, and I had spent time preparing a little motivational speech for her about the importance of learning and paying attention to the teacher and getting caught back up quickly on the skills that diminished over the summer. After seeing the girls in action with Iman, however, my focus changed. 

Instead, as I was dropping Michaela off at school, I asked her, “What is the most important thing to remember about the first day of school?” Her answer: “Be a good friend.” We didn’t talk about math or reading or following the rules. My girl simply set out to be a good friend to everyone she meets. 

I wish I could take credit for that, for somehow “trained my child in the way she should go” and maybe I did – on accident. The reality, however, is she has seen this attitude lived out again and again in people like you: people who know that far above any questions of theology or orthodoxy, what is important is to be a good friend, to love our neighbors as ourselves. So thank you, Church, for helping to train our girls in the right way. 

A grateful and humbled papa, 

Pastor Mike

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