Loving the Stranger



The word stirs up controversy and strong feelings and heartache and fear. Because of the polarized nature of the current debate on immigration in the U.S., many of us are simply turning away from this issue in frustration.

This is understandable.

But have we also unintentionally turned away from immigrants themselves?

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In my book, Loving the Stranger: Welcoming Immigrants in the Name of Jesus, I set aside controversy for a moment and draw the reader into a conversation about loving our neighbors well, regardless of our political opinions.

Even if U.S. borders were completely closed tomorrow so that no new immigrants could come through, we would still have millions of first-generation immigrants already living among us as our neighbors--this is a fact that we cannot ignore as followers of Jesus.

We must ask ourselves this question: “What is our responsibility as believers towards the immigrants already in our midst?” Remember that we ourselves once were “foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” but we have been “brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). We should viscerally relate to the experience of outsiders, then, and we should move towards them with the same open-armed love that we have been shown in Jesus.

But how? Many excellent books and articles have made the same point I’ve just made above. But if you’re like me, you’re often left wanting more, wanting really practical guidance to answer the question, “Ok, now what?”

  • How does all this apply on Saturday morning at 10 am when I’m on my way to an apartment complex across town to visit with a family whose first language is not English and I’m really nervous?

  • What does it look like to be there for a recently arrived immigrant family who is dealing with past trauma and trying to raise teenagers in an unfamiliar culture?

  • How can I be open about my love for Jesus without unnecessarily offending those from other faiths?

  • What does it look like to form a true cross-cultural friendship for the long haul?

If you want encouragement and practical tips for welcoming immigrants and building cross-cultural friendships, my book is for you. In it, we begin by putting ourselves in the shoes of immigrants of various backgrounds. From this starting point of empathy, we then move on to talk about braving cross-cultural awkwardness in order to get to the beautiful possibilities on the other side, how to use simple tools to love immigrants well, how to deepen cross-cultural friendships, and practical ways to welcome immigrants by simply inviting them into our daily (crazy-busy, ordinary) lives.

This book is for you if you’ve ever wondered how to live in light of the biblical command to “show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2) or if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the issues and want a simple way to move forward in proactive love.


Buy the book here and come join the conversation on Loving the Stranger Blog.




Jessica Udall writes on crossing cultures and following Jesus beyond polarized rhetoric and into street-level everyday love for those who are different. She is married to a wonderful Ethiopian man and has two children. Her favorites include having conversations with interesting people and drinking strong Ethiopian coffee, preferably at the same time. Jessica writes on Loving the Stranger Blog is a regular contributor to the Border Perspective Blog.