TITLE: Have you created your own Ellis Island?
By Rhonda Ritenour
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"Annie Moore [a 15 year old immigrant from County Cork, Ireland] had no idea she would be entering history books as the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island. After a brief inspection, she was signed into the entry books by an official from the Treasury Department and given a ten-dollar gold piece by Colonel John Weber, the commissioner of Ellis Island... It would not be surprising if officials had picked Moore out early for special treatment. After all, one of the main purposes of Ellis Island was to reassure increasingly anxious Americans that public officials were on guard to sift out undesirable immigrants."(taken from American Passage: The History of Ellis Island by Vincent J. Cannato)
Let's move it to present day....
The congregation was full that morning as a young man entered and sat in the back pew. Luke realized quickly that his attire was not what seemed to be "appropriate" to wear this Sunday morning, compared to everyone sitting in this beautiful sanctuary, but he hoped no one would notice. As he sat there, he felt a peace from God that he knew he hadn't felt in a very long time. It was nice to be in a place where he was warm, safe and possibly loved. As the weeks went on, the young man kept returning to the church in hopes of establishing some friendships based on the smiles he had received on the first Sunday he had visited. A few people were open to engaging in conversations and even acted interested in getting to know him, but it never seemed to go beyond that. Sure, they invited him to activities and wanted him to attend different events, but no one ever took the time to really get to know him. It was as if they had already deemed him as "undesirable" to their little island that they called their church because of his looks, his manner of speech, and the other clear differences he had that seemed to be unacceptable.
Well, he had been searching for a long time for somewhere that would lift up his new found faith in Christ, which he had found even before he got to this church. It also seemed that this place didn't even want to take the time to figure out if he had a personal relationship with Christ or not. As much as he hated to go, he knew he needed to move on and look for a place that would see him as Christ saw him, when He had accepted him into His kingdom, and not how this church seemed to view him, even though they never had said it out loud.
John & Kathy were entering the young adult Sunday School class the following Sunday when they noticed that Luke, the young man who had been attending faithfully the past several Sundays, was not in his usual spot. They mentioned it to the class and all agreed that it would probably be for the better. They discussed how, even though he seemed like a nice man, he really wasn't what they were use to and some of his views and the way he looked was just too different from their small group so they didn't see how it could work. Obviously, the Lord had other plans for him and even though none of them had invited him out to just talk and get to know him, they felt that they had done their job by inviting him to social functions as a group and other main events. They said a quick prayer for him to be able to find just the right church and quickly moved on with their Bible study from Matthew 25: 31-46...
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