You are Welcome Here!

August 2009 E-update

I had gotten away from the group and was off on my own for a little while exploring the ruins of Castle Karak, a crusader castle in the country of Jordan. I was amazed at its size; it is huge. As I rounded a corner I came face to face with a Jordanian soldier also exploring the castle ruins. Though in his uniform, he was obviously off duty. We politely greeted one another and then he said, “You are American.” I told him that I was and he said something to me I will always remember. “You are welcome here.” I thanked him and we both went on exploring the castle.

I know it seems like a simple phrase but I was far from home in strange surroundings and there were many other things that he could have said. The welcome came as a bit of a surprise. It was a pleasant surprise; really a blessing.

On Thursday (9/3) new students will begin arriving here in Athens. Moms and Dads will leave their sons and daughters in Athens. For some of these new students it will be their first experience away from home for any significant amount of time. Some will exalt that they are now on their own away from the folks’ watchful eye. They will rejoice to make decisions their own way reflecting who they want to be here at university. Others will immediately be homesick. While they may continue contact with friends through Facebook and texting, it’s not quite the same when they’re eating alone in the cafeteria.

For all of the students at OU, new and returning, the ROC community hopes to be a group of people that says, “You are welcome here.” Whether by helping students move in to their residence halls Thursday through Saturday, or giving away cookies at the water station, welcoming students to OU at the ROC table during the student activities resource fair on Labor Day, or providing free pizza at the ROC intro meeting later that night, we will express welcome in Jesus’ name and invite them into community with us.

During the quarter, we will continue to extend welcome to students and faculty at our Wednesday night Cross Walk meetings, our Monday night small groups and our Wednesday afternoon faculty fellowship lunches. A simple expression can make a significant impact on those far from home in strange surroundings. It is an attempt to bless.

Thank you for what you do to make these various expressions of welcome possible. You are a blessing to us!