by Sheri Schofield
Marta was only ten years old when her father took her away from her mother, who had divorced him. He took Marta on a boat from Columbia and took her to Panama. There he left her with a friend, where Marta was forced to work to pay for her food and shelter. She never saw her mother again.
Years later, Marta applied as a maid to help us in our home in Panama, where my husband, Tim, was stationed. By then, she had a one-year-old baby and no husband. I welcomed Marta into our home and told her that she and I would keep house together. She would help me, but she would also belong to our family. So would her baby, Julisa.
That first evening when we had placed the food on the table, our family joined hands and included Marta and Julisa in the circle. Tim prayed in English then I said a brief prayer in Spanish for Marta to hear. Marta and Julisa became very dear to us during the year we were in Panama. We shared the love of Jesus with the immigrant mother and her little girl.
Within three months, Marta wanted to become a Christian, too. She and our daughter, Christy, were baptized the same day. Marta gave her testimony, telling how she had thought we were crazy at first! We loved her! She had not known love since she was a little girl. Our love had convinced her of God’s love for her.
More than twenty years later, our family still keeps in touch with Marta, though we are in the States and Marta remains in Panama. She is my sister in Jesus, and very dear to me.
Today we are seeing many people of troubled nations fleeing toward the safety of America. There are girls like Marta and Julisa fleeing for their lives. There are families fleeing war-torn countries where their lives are in danger. What does God say about how we should treat them?
King David wrote in Psalm 149:9(NIV), “God watches over the foreigner . . .” (Think immigrant, refugee.)
Job defended himself by saying, “…no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler.” Job 31:32 (NIV)
Jesus told his disciples that on the day he returns to earth, “Then the King will say, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“The righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink . . . ?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:34-37, 40 (NIV)
May we always see our world and its people the way Jesus does!
“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19 (NIV)
About the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, was launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.
Join the conversation: What opportunities have you had to share the love of Christ?