Immigrants Among Us – Praying for the Stranger

Whatever your political opinion is of illegal aliens, immigrants or legal foreigners, the fact is there is an invitation in their presence. Let me explain what happened last Sunday.

My husband was due back Sunday afternoon to DFW from Turkey via Frankfurt, Germany. While waiting for him at the International Terminal I observed the various groups of people arriving many obviously from other countries.

Some had family or friends waiting for them; some connected to a person holding a sign with their name on it; some looked like they knew exactly where to go as if this is a repeated experience. Three Africans loaded with luggage approached the welcome visitors’ desk, the one manned by a uniformed volunteer. A father with great enthusiasm but obviously weary from the journey is greeted by his waiting family and a young husband warmly embraces his traveler wife.

Just before my husband walked through those large imposing, sliding doors, a young woman and her male companion caught my eye as they walked through the doors into the waiting area. 

The young woman was beautiful and elegantly tall, obviously from the Middle East. She was dressed in a lovely pale beige outfit – long flowing skirt, long sleeved elegant top and a head- piece to match in the same color. She had excellent posture as she slowly pushed the luggage cart in front of her. She was walking some distance behind a bearded younger man who pushed his own luggage cart. You could see her face. She looked sad and walked slowly observing what was happening just ahead of her. She was crying quietly.

She watched the young man traveling with her as three bearded men warmly greet him. They hugged and kissed each other back and forth on the cheek. Soon, the older man of the group walked over to her and repeated the hugging and kissing on both of her cheeks 3 times. He looked at her as if to console her. Then another bearded young man walked over to her, greeted her in the same way and took her luggage cart and began to push it for her and the entire group departed the international terminal.

Gone… out of my sight. I could not follow them. I will never meet them, but left in me in an intense interest.

Why did this young woman capture my attention so powerfully? Who is she? Why was I so drawn to her and curious about her story? Was she coming for an arranged marriage? Had someone close to her just died and she was coming to honor them? Was she crying because the journey was arduous and long? Was she ill? Why was she not smiling? Was she coming to stay forever or would this just be a short trip?

I am especially tuned into this having lived outside our country for 7 years as a stranger and alien in a country that was not my own.

Whatever her story is God placed an interest in her within me and, I think, a burden to pray for her. I had just come from church where the sermon from Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-14 emphasized that Paul’s lack of acquaintance with those in Colosse but his commitment to pray for them. They were strangers to him but he prayed anyway. The pastor encouraged the congregation to begin to pray for people we did not know.

We are admonished in I Timothy 2:1-2 to pray for kings and all those in authority that we may live quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Surely praying for the aliens, strangers, immigrants could not be unbiblical? The Israelites in Deuteronomy 10:18 are told to love the aliens because they were once such. We are told in Hebrews 13:2 not to forget to entertain strangers because they could be angels.

I invite you to join me in praying for this young woman or others like her. I may never see her again. I may never know her story but God does and I can companion her to the Father’s throne to intercede for her, to pray for her salvation and the salvation of her whole family. I can expect in faith that God will bring her to Himself and that he will protect her in the meantime.

The presence of immigrants, aliens and foreigners in our midst is an invitation from the Lord to intercede for them. Who will you pray for?


Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.

One Comment

  • Sue Bohlin

    LOVE the invitation, Gail!

    What a great idea–turn curiosity into intercession.

    Father, I especially lift up this young woman who arrived in Dallas with wet cheeks and apparent sorrow in her heart. Open her eyes to see the evidences of Your love everywhere she looks. Meet her in the secret places of pain and comfort her. Lord Jesus, if I may be so bold, would You please appear to her in a dream, calling to her that she belongs to You and You are the way, the truth and the life? Would You send one of Your followers to love her well and share how You change our lives and bring meaning to our pain?