Neighbor’s Lunch and Immigration

Charles Kiser —  August 13, 2008 — 2 Comments

We had a Neighbor’s Lunch this weekend at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in West End. I really love these experiences. About half of our group consisted of young adult/professionals; the other half consisted of poor neighbors.

I decided to walk around downtown for about a half-hour before lunch in the hopes that I might meet someone to invite to our lunch.

I just prayed as I walked that God would show me someone to serve, to befriend.

And yes, I had the nervous butterflies. I knew God would have to work in order to push me past my anxiety about cold-turkey invitations.

As I walked God brought a text to mind in Jesus’ teaching about inviting people to a party (Luke 14:12-14):

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

At the very end of my walk I saw a man sitting on a bench with a Wal-Mart sack beside him. I walked by him, looked him in the eyes and said, “Hey, how’s it going?” He responded politely.

I kept walking.

Then I heard, “Excuse me sir. Do you mind if I ask you something?”

That was all I needed. Thank you, God.

He explained that he had just moved a few weeks ago from a large city in the north to find work in Dallas. He was on the streets, and he was trying to find a way to get to Wichita Falls because he knew someone who could give him work there. The bus fare cost $43. He showed me the $30 he had and asked if I could help.

I just happened to have $15 in my pocket.

I told him, “You know it’s funny that you ask because I’ve been walking around praying that God would show me someone to help.”

That resonated with him — he told me he was also a believer.

Paul ended up coming to lunch with us and eating all the ribs he could handle. After lunch, we sent him off with enough for bus fare to Wichita Falls. We hope to hear from him again when he’s back in Dallas.

I love divine appointments. It seems that God works out all the details when I merely make myself available to him.

At future lunches we’ll invite everyone to show up early and go out into the streets and alleys praying that God would lead us to new friends. In fact, why couldn’t we do that for all our events?

On Sunday night, we talked about immigration and its relationship to spirituality and politics. Go figure that three of our poor friends from our Neighbor’s lunch came—one of whom regularly protested on behalf of two imprisoned border patrol agents, another of whom was married to an undocumented immigrant! What an interesting conversation it was.

It was also amazing to see conversation between the rich and poor, the educated and less educated. I think we discovered commonalities between the two we would have never expected.

Seriously, where else in the world can the rich and poor rub shoulders like this? That’s the beauty of the church.

In the words of one of our young adult friends at the gathering, “I could feel the presence of God with us. It was beautiful.”

We discovered in scripture God’s openhandedness and mercy toward the “stranger” or immigrant, as well as the ways certain responsibility was expected of the immigrant—particularly when the immigrant was living among God’s people.

If you’re interested in a good book on the subject, I’d encourage you to pick up Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R. It’s a short read and a good introduction on how the scriptures speak to the topic of immigration.

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

2 responses to Neighbor’s Lunch and Immigration


    Wow, Charles, that is a great story. I just finished a preaching series on Hospitality, which was much inspired by Christine Pohl’s book entitled: Making Room: Recovering the Ancient Art of Hospitality. A great book. Because Abraham encountered God through showing hospitality (the story of the three visitors), hospitality was seen by Israel to be a potential encounter with God. I, like, you, have been blessed by these encounters and divine appointments.

    I love your political/God discussions idea. One of your guests is married to an illegal immigrant–wow, that really changes the discussion, doesn’t it, and makes it more real.

    Keep up the good work. I know that God will continue to bless you guys. I’m looking forward to getting together with you guys again soon.


    Yes to everything about this post.

    A few months ago I was asked to be a part of helping a church be more mission minded as far as connecting with and helping the poor, homeless and hurting. The pastor asked the question,

    “So how can get connected and involved in the lives of the homeless in our area?” he asked.

    I raised my hand quickly, excited that I had the perfect answer.

    “Yes Chad?” said the pastor. “Well, I believe it’s as easy as going to the streets and loving on them.”

    “What do you mean?” the old pastor asked, a little taken back by my simplistic response to his question.

    “We just go. We pray. We walk around, meet the people living on the streets. We go to their camps and love on them!” I said.

    “I think I speak for all of us pastors here when I say that we can’t just go. That’s too unorganized and not well planned. How about we hold a week long evangelism conference targeting the poor? Or maybe we could have a luncheon after church and promote it as being food for the poor?” the pastor said, smiling.

    A few weeks after this meeting, I resigned from the church and moved to downtown Dallas.

    Charles, I love this blog, and I love your heart and the fact that you did something very primal; you went. All this silly ultra urban, theology spitting, post-eco-modern pastors in huge churches may be good at a lot of things, but they aren’t good at going.

    And isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Honestly, I love this post so much I wish I had been the one to write it. Love you man! Give Cindy and Lowell a big hug for me!

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