Southampton : Ruth and Boaz
A perspective from Chris Halls...
During her long maritime history Southampton has welcomed many from overseas who have settled here. Today, the ease of travel and studying abroad, combined with the economic and political plight of other nations, has swollen the city’s population greatly in the last few years with overseas students, refugees, asylum seekers, and economic migrants. The level of Immigration is a contentious political issue with far-reaching economic and social implications for the character and social fabric of the nation. Are there lessons we can learn from the Book of Ruth as to what God’s perspective on the situation is?
God has called Southampton to have the heart of Boaz, and to receive the stranger and exile as he welcomed and accepted Ruth.
Boaz the kinsman-redeemer is a picture of the role the church has played in the past and a model for her in the present. Boaz was hospitable, generous and dealt righteously with a fatherless widow –a vulnerable foreigner who, through misfortune, found herself in a strange land and culture with no one to provide for her.
Before marrying Ruth, Boaz taught his people to go beyond what was their responsibility under the Law in showing kindness to a foreigner. He also sought approval from his own people before entering covenant with her. God wants church and city to have a welcoming heart; like that of Boaz.
Racial harmony was assured because Ruth adopted her new country as if it were her own. Having made a break with the past, she humbly submitted to what was required of her and began a new life. She worked long hours to provide for herself and Naomi. She is an example to all who would come to Southampton and live here.
God’s richest blessings came upon Boaz and Ruth, for the covenant they made together producing a godly inheritance –two of the finest leaders the world has seen: David and Christ. God intends a marriage between those who have recently adopted this country as their own and those whose roots go back many generations. If the body of Christ in Southampton continues to receive the stranger and the alien, and if her newcomers will embrace their new homeland, God can bless this city with the wisest of leaders.
How this might be worked out practically...
To Ruth (the 10% or more of the city who have come to live and work in Southampton in recent years): work hard, learn the language, build relationships with English speakers, seek to live in harmony.
To Boaz (those who have long called this country home –whether originally from Britain or overseas): be open-hearted, generous and accepting. Try to appreciate the challenges ‘Ruth’ faces –along with the reasons she came here. Share your faith, teach the language, learn from one another. Guard your heart, seek to build partnerships, build bridges –not walls.