Caring for the stranger within your gate

Southern Cross: People Matter

People Matter was a regular column by Phillip Jensen in Southern Cross, the monthly magazine of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.

Originally Published:
Jensen, P 'Caring for the stranger within your gate'. Southern Cross October 2000.

Tagged: immigration

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Jasmine's early memories were not all bad. But one bad childhood memory never left her. When the Communists took over her village they had the elders publicly executed. They were not killed for any known crime, but just as a political expression of who is now in charge.

When Jasmine's parents had an opportunity, they smuggled her out of the country. They paid a business man to include Jasmine among his own children when he next travelled overseas. They did not know that he would enslave her in domestic service.

For several years Jasmine lived in the cellar of a home. Working long hours, eating poorly, with no schooling, not allowed to learn the language, or leave the house. She was enslaved to the barbarity of capitalists as surely as her family was enslaved to communists.

But her slavery was in the free society—in Australia!

In her late teens Jasmine escaped, wandering the streets of our strange city unable to speak anything but the most rudimentary English. She escaped and started a new life as an illegal immigrant, but at least free to make her own money and look after herself.

An Australian family took her into their home and by her hard work and their kindness she was able to establish a new life for herself. She finally left them to marry. Her husband was a hard working man from her home country, and understood the strange life that she had led. They had three children. He started a business and they settled into the suburban life of most Sydneysiders.

Some Christian neighbours helped her English by reading books to her children and lending the children books for her to read to them. But TV and school soon gave the children the language that she would struggle with. The children have now grown into adulthood and hold down responsible jobs, playing their part in society.

But the exciting news is that each of the three children came into contact with Christianity apart from their neighbours. Each of them turned to Christ through their teenage years, though neither of their parents have come to know the saviour yet.

The story of Jasmine is reminiscent of the events of Joseph. Of course it is different in that the family of Joseph is the family of Abraham through whom God was working to bless all nations. And Jasmine had no prophetic dreams about her place in the purposes of God.

But yet Jasmine was like Joseph in suffering the effects of human's sinfulness. As a young and defenceless person she could see the evil of humans in their use and abuse of her. Yet God protected her and even used the sinfulness of people to bring about his purposes for her and her children that were not seemingly possible in her home country.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20, NIV.