North America is a land of "strangers." Someone has said, "We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions—bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality." This can also be said of Canada.
When Columbus opened the doors to the New World, peoples of other lands, and religious leaders, restless under the oppressive rule of despots, began their migration to the land where "'every man should have liberty to worship God according to the light of his own conscience.' "—The Great Controversy, p. 295.
Thus, the "strangers" came to these shores. And they are still coming. They come to find a new way of life. They come to find, if possible, a new spiritual freedom. Each one is a "stranger within thy gates," 0 North America!
In the teachings of Jesus, He mentions the professed people of God upon whom special blessings are to be bestowed in the kingdom of heaven: "I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in" (Matt. 25: 35). So closely related to the very life of Christ are such acts that FIe adds: "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (verse 40).
There also follows the condemnation for disregarding the "stranger." For in the final decree in the last judgment, the righteous Judge "shall . . say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in" (verses 41-43).
The Old Testament admonitions are in harmony with the teachings of Jesus. For it is written: "Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 10: 19). "As ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you" (Num. 15:15, 16).
There is an erroneous belief that immigration in North America has fallen off through the years, and that there are not as many foreign-speaking people in this country as there were formerly. Statistics indicate that there are three times as many immigrants entering the United States now as there were in 1946. The percentage is higher in Canada. There were 325,000 immigrants admitted into the United States in 1957, and approximately 200,000 entered Canada during the same period, making a total of half a million in one year. Over a ten-year period ending with 1957, the total immigration into these two great bulwarks of Western freedom was approximately 4 million. These are the "strangers" within the gates, whom we are commissioned by the Lord Jesus to love. And by loving them we endeavor to bring them under His banner, in order that they may have "one law and one manner."
The bulk of these "strangers" can be found in the great centers of population.
In the courts and lanes of the great cities, in the lonely byways of the country, are families and individuals—perhaps strangers in a strange land—who are without church relations, and who, in their loneliness, come to feel that God has forgotten them. They do not understand what they must do to be saved. Many are sunken in sin. Many are in distress. They are pressed with suffering, want, unbelief, despondency. Disease of every type afflicts them, both in body and in soul. They long to find a solace for their troubles, and Satan tempts them to seek it in the lusts and pleasures that lead to ruin and death—Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 232, 233.
The message must be given to the thousands of foreigners living in these cities in the home field. —Evangelism, p. 571.
The questions raised by Paul regarding the preaching of the gospel is applicable today: "How shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?" (Rom. 10:14, 15).
French Quebec, Canada, has approximately 5 million people who have not yet heard the last warning message. "How shall they hear without a preacher?" Who will go to them with the message for these times?
Elder E. J. Klute, pastor of the small Polish church in Chicago, writes: "Since I am the only Adventist Polish minister in the States, I feel a great responsibility for the 6 million Poles scattered throughout North America." One lone man to warn 6 million people! and he has so very, very little with which to do. Hardly any tracts. No Bible correspondence lessons; no radio broadcasts; no evangelistic organization.
In New York City, Elder Eduard Magi, who is not in the best of health, looks after three language minority groups: Estonian, Ukrainian, and Latvian. There are more than 200,000 Ukrainians in New York City and adjoining New Jersey. The story of the faithfulness and sacrifice of the small Ukrainian church of fifteen members in that great city, trying to foster a radio program for the Ukrainian people, is told in a recent Review and Herald article.
There are vast areas of untouched foreign-language groups in cities, and in coal- and iron-mining sections of North America. Louisiana is just now becoming alert to an extensive French-language population within its borders. Texas and New Mexico contain more than a million and a half Spanish-speaking people.
There are foreign-language peoples in many conferences where none are reported. For example: Birmingham, Alabama, has two radio broadcasts a week in Greek and Italian. Foley, Alabama, radio stations broadcast in Polish and German.
There are 868 radio stations in the United States broadcasting in 40 languages; 283 stations are broadcasting in Spanish, 157 in Polish, and 149 in Italian. Other languages are in lesser radio outlets.
There are also 810 foreign language publications, not including books and magazines, in the United States, printed in 40 languages.
It is possible to conclude from these statistics that there must be hundreds of thousands, yes, possibly millions of "sons of the stranger" in North America who listen to radio broadcasts and read foreign-language newspapers.
Nor are we to overlook the growing Indian population. It has been supposed that the North American Indian was dwindling away. Statistics prove otherwise, for there are now more than half a million Indians in the United States, and approximately 160,000 in Canada. What about these original Americans? Are they to have an opportunity to hear the message? Or shall we leave them in ignorance? One interesting observation is that there are 31,716 Indians, mostly Siouans, in North Carolina, among whom a small beginning is being made. The Pacific Union Conference has a progressive program for reaching the Indian peoples of that field, and success is crowning their efforts.
The business of reaching the "sons of the stranger" with God's last message of mercy, belongs to all of us. We are to reach out a hand to those whose language we cannot understand. We are to provide spiritual food for their hungry souls. We cannot evade our responsibility. If the Son of God would leave His Father's house to come in search of the "one lost sheep" what do you suppose the Lord expects of His undershepherds? "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9). "The sons of the stranger" are our brethren. As we do unto them we do unto the Lord Jesus.