The New Kid in Town
by Barry Shafer
April 21st, 2016

Two questions:

  1. Have you ever been the new student at school?
  2. When was the last time your class (or team, or youth group) received a new student?


There are not too many things more unnerving than that first day of school in a new school system. Everyone around you has their circles of friends; you don’t know who, if anyone, you’ll sit with at lunch; you’re afraid you’ll get lost which will lead to an even worse situation of being late for a class. The potential pitfalls of “new student” status are many. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


Everyone has experienced the feeling of being the “new person” at some point, whether with a new job, new school, new team, new cast, etc. Therefore, we all know what it feels like. Curiously, God has a “pay it forward” instruction for these situations.


  1. DIGGING IN (God, Show Me!)

As God was preparing Israel to be His people in the Promised Land, He kept reminding them of a particular instruction, an instruction that could sound a little like this: you know what it’s like to be “the new person”; be kind to the new people in your midst. Here are some samples of this recurring instruction:


Exodus 23:9

9 “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.


Leviticus 19:33-34

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.


Deuteronomy 10:19

19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.


  1. TAKING IT INWARD (God, Teach Me!)

Think for a minute about why God would be so persistent with this instruction. What does it appear He is motivating His people to do?



What is God asking His people to tap into as they interact with foreigners in their land?



Think about a time when you were the “foreigner” in a strange land—a time when you were new to a group of people who were already familiar with each other, i.e., a new student, a new team member, new cast member. Take a moment to remember emotional details like anxiety and nervousness. Write down any specific feelings, emotions or thoughts, you felt during that experience.



How did that situation turn out? When did you quit feeling anxious and nervous and what helped you get to that point?

     2. PUTTING INTO PRACTICE (God, Change Me!)

What do God’s instructions to Israel say to you concerning your “foreigner” experience? What are you to do with that experience?



Think about all your groups in which everyone is familiar with each other: youth group, school, team, cast, band, a squad. Have you had a new student join your familiar group lately? Write down any names that come to mind.



Now, think about how you might reach out to the new student(s). Remember, as God reminded Israel, if you were ever “the new person” in any situation, you know what it feels like and you know it’s no fun. Write down two or three things you could do to help a new student feel accepted, relaxed, and looked out for.





Then do those things. Be the one who helps the new person’s nervousness and anxieties give way to familiarity and acceptance.


Download PDF version of this devo HERE!

This originally appeared here and is shared with permission.

Barry Shafer has been communicating the truth of God’s Word since 1984 as a volunteer youth leader, youth pastor, pastor, author and speaker. Barry, with his late wife Dana, founded InWord Resources in 1996 to strengthen youth ministry with discipleship materials and experiences that meaningfully engage teens in Scripture. Barry is author of Unleashing God’s Word in Youth Ministry (Youth Specialties/Zondervan) and has written numerous teen devotionals and small-group Bible studies.

Barry holds a mass communications degree from Anderson University (Anderson, Ind.) and a master’s degree in biblical studies from Cincinnati Bible Seminary (Cincinnati, Ohio). He lives in Middletown, Ohio with his infant son Reade and his wife Jessica, who happens to be a Grammy-winning opera soprano. If you’re curious about that fascinating world you can check out Jessica’s website here! [LINK:]

When Barry’s not studying, writing, being a diva spouse, or “daddy-ing” Reade, you can find him reading on the porch, biking on a trail, pulling for the Packers, or playing a little golf.

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