Sarah, Abraham’s wife, dies. She's 127 years old. (Read it in the Bible at Genesis 23:1-3.) Weeping, Abraham mourns her passing. But then, where is he to bury his beloved spouse, who bore their one and only son, Isaac, in their ripe old age?
Recognizing himself a stranger and a foreigner living among the Hittites, Abraham bargains with them to buy a plot of land to “lay his wife to rest”. The Hittites recognize Abraham’s good reputation among them, so they’re willing to give Abraham the land. Abraham nevertheless pays the agreed-on price of 400 pieces of silver for the land at Machpelah, near Mamre (also called Hebron).
("An investment of time and money in serving God often earns a pleasant return – a good reputation and respect of others [in being a good neighbor]," notes the Life Application Study Bible.)
Centuries later, New Testament times, we see Jesus being asked, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replies with a parable. (Read it in the Bible at Luke 10:25-37.) Here summarized: A Jewish man, “traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho,” is beaten and robbed, and left for dead. A priest comes by and sees the man, but, perhaps muttering, “I have no time for this,” he ignores him and continues on his way. Later, a Temple assistant (Greek: a Levite) comes along. He too passes on by.
Lastly, a despised Samaritan sees the hurt Jewish man. Moved with compassion, even though Jews and Samaritans don’t get along (John 4:9), the Samaritan stops and cares for that one in need.
Jesus concludes by asking, "Who was the good neighbor? Was it not the stranger and foreigner with compassion? Go and do likewise.”
Continue journeying we come to the 19th Century and meet Henry Appenzeller. He arrives at Inchon, Korea, on Easter morning, 1885, one of the first ordained Methodist missionaries there. Reared in a German Reformed church in Pennsylvania, at age of 21 he joins the Methodist Church. And as Horace Allen will say of Appenzeller, he becomes “a most ardent Methodist of the John Wesley type.” In Korea, Appenzeller serves God, being a stranger and a foreigner in a foreign land. In less than a year of his arrival he opens a liberal arts boys’ school. But, his calling is preaching, not teaching. Therefore he sees evangelism as the school’s purpose, even though proselytizing is officially banned in Korea.
Ruth A. Tucker writes, “More than anyone else, Appenzeller laid the foundation for Methodism in Korea.” Read more on Henry Appenzeller in Tucker’s work From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.
Christ-followers today reside in a world that is fast making them more and more foreigners and strangers in it. Nevertheless, as the apostle Peter admonishes (as we read at 1 Peter 2:12), “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors....” We're to remain faithful to our “calling” as Christ’s ambassadors. (See 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.) As Jesus commanded us, “Go into all the world…” Mark 16:15.
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1, NKJV
For Further study, consider
1 Chronicles 29:15
Ephesians 2:19Hebrews 11:9