“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” We members of synod of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia are convinced that this saying of Jesus is relevant again today.
People are diverse, just as God’s creative action is colorful and diverse. The diversity of people also results in differing interests and goals, and this leads to conflicts and debates.
People depend on one another. They accept one another and also live from being accepted by God. This context makes room for a life in dignity.
In encountering people who are hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, prisoners and lost, we encounter our own failure, and sin. It is Christ himself who encounters us in our suffering fellow humans, and calls us to repent and to a life worthy of the name.
This call to repentance must ring out all the louder, the more people shut each other out and shout each other down with propaganda and violence. We see the danger of an increase in people shutting themselves off from friend and foe.
This public statement is intended to be encouraging, particularly to all those with responsibility in their various settings who have set out on the long, steep and rocky road of reconciliation. It is about giving a hand to the drowning persons, a voice to those whose voice is faint, and rights to the dispossessed. It is about creating conditions to reduce the causes of human misery, and to give practical assistance and not refuse it under the guise of lawfulness. It is about affirming diversity in our society shaped by migration. We want to open up ways to good relations and ensure that all can participate. Integration is not a one-way street. We want to encourage people to open up to the common path of integration.
We are very aware that – in the past and the present – we Christians have failed in these assignments, time and again. The call to repent and to turn away from alienation from God therefore goes first to ourselves. We know we are united with all who are on the way towards a life in diversity. Together with them, we want to confront the challenge that comes to us from our experience of faith in Jesus Christ:
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me”
(„Ich bin fremd gewesen, und ihr habt mich aufgenommen.“)