I Was a Stranger

May 24, 2016 at 1:16 am / by


I Was a Stranger (detail) by Gordon Bell
I Was a Stranger (detail) by Gordon Bell (private collection)

In April, 2016, my wife and I had the privilege of visiting a small refugee camp in Lebanon. It was a beautiful day, and the camp was nestled in a vineyard between two spectacularly beautiful mountain ranges in the Bekaa Valley.

We were able to meet a Syrian refugee family and see a local church in action caring for the needs of the Muslim refugee families. The father of the family we visited was bedridden and disabled and it was heartwarming to see one of the church elders come to take care of him. While I was there, I saw a little girl peek out of one of the tents. When I pointed my camera in her direction, she started to cry, not knowing quite what to make of me. I felt really bad but she soon calmed down once she realized I was a friend and not a foe. When I got back to the studio, I was able to use one of the pictures I shot as the basis for this painting.

The Syrian refugee crisis is probably the greatest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime. At the same time, it presents a great opportunity to show the love of Christ.

The title is drawn from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

This painting by was selected to be part of the Op Ed exhibit which ran from October 3 through November 6, 2016 at the Art League in Alexandria Virginia.


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