As thousands of Ukrainian women and children arrived at Berlin’s railway station fleeing war, they were met with a surprise—German families holding handmade signs offering refuge in their homes. “Can host two people!” one sign read. “Big room [available],” read another. Asked why she offered such hospitality to strangers, one woman said her mother had needed refuge while fleeing the Nazis, and she wanted to help others in such need.
In Deuteronomy, God calls the Israelites to care for those far from their homelands. Why? Because He’s the defender of the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner (10:18), and because the Israelites knew what such vulnerability felt like: “for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (v. 19). Empathy was to motivate their care.
But there’s a flip side to this too. When the widow at Zarephath welcomed the foreigner Elijah into her home, she was the one blessed (1 Kings 17:9–24), just as Abraham was blessed by his three foreign visitors (Genesis 18:1–15). God often uses hospitality to bless the host, not just the guest.
Welcoming strangers into your home is hard, but those German families may be the real beneficiaries. As we too respond to the vulnerable with God’s empathy, we may be surprised at the gifts He gives us through them.