Esther and Mordecai
An old adage declares, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” That’s especially appropriate when moving to a new culture.
There is ample guidance available for people relocating in foreign lands on swimming with the current—becoming culturally sensitive and integrating into the new environment. Just as important, however, is learning to retain one’s own cultural identity in a new world. Stump & Associates immigration law firm shares a few tips for immigrants on how to preserve their heritage in the great American melting pot:
Maintaining your native language not only ties you to your home country, it gives you a marketing tool when job-seeking. Many employers today value multi-lingual personnel.
Stay in touch with your friends and family back home. This will help lessen the culture shock of your new environment. It will also expand their horizons as they learn about your new homeland.
Keep up with your own personal interests and hobbies. Your favorite music, books, and television shows will help you preserve who you are as a person.
Remember to celebrate your national holidays and rituals as best as possible. Though your new country many not recognize those festivals, you may be able to join with your fellow expatriates to commemorate the events.
Most importantly, do your best to retain your religious identity and practices. Stand like a rock on this principle: freedom of worship expression is a God-given right to every human.
Esther and Mordecai were adept at both aspects of living as foreigners in Persian-ruled Babylon. While learning the language and customs of their Medo-Persian hosts, Esther and Mordecai maintained their own sense of Jewish identity in the midst of these pagan cultures.
Because there are times when it is prudent to just blend in, swim with the current, and not appear too peculiar, Mordecai wisely advised Esther not to reveal her Jewish heritage when she was selected to join the king’s harem (Esther 2:10). She adapted to her situation by changing her name from the Jewish Hadassah (joy), to the Persian Esther, which means, ironically, “hidden.”
In matters of principle, however, there are times to take a stand and be counted. Mordecai risked his life by refusing to bow to Haman, and Esther risked hers by standing up to save her Jewish nation. No matter how much our culture demands of us, we must always remember who we are as God’s people. Our citizenship is not of this world, so we stand like a rock on heavenly principles.
Connecting: How well do you adapt to new circumstances—a new school, new job, etc.? Do you have any tricks for remembering new names and faces? How about strategies for learning your new role and expectations?
Sharing: Why were there still Jews living in Mesopotamia during the time of Esther? Why didn’t all of the Jews return to Palestine with Ezra and Nehemiah when Cyrus opened the way for them to go back?
- Many of the Jews were born during the Babylonian captivity and living in Babylon and Persia was the only life they knew.
- The Jews that Nebuchadnezzar took captive from Judea were getting pretty old by this point. Relocating once again is a lot to ask of the elderly.
- What was there to go back to? The Babylonians reduced Jerusalem to a pile of rubble.
- God inspired many to stay behind and live in Mesopotamia as missionary witnesses to that nation.
- Mesopotamia was a pretty nice place to live and the remaining Jews assimilated completely into their new culture, forgetting their own heritage.
Applying: How do you know when to blend in, and when to stand apart from the crowd?
Valuing: Take some time and assess your social media presence. Do your contacts know who you really are? Do they know what you stand for? Prayerfully consider how you can strike a balance between being sociable and taking an unpopular stand (possibly offending your friends) when necessary.
~ Stefani Leeper
Before you go…
The Christmas holiday is upon us!
We hope that your holiday season is spent with peace and time with loved ones. And if you’re not able to meet with friends or family, or if this is season doesn’t hold joyous memories for you, we pray that the peace of God rests upon you and that you may receive blessings of the Holy Spirit.
Merry Christmas and God bless you!
The Center for Creative Ministry Team
PS: Many of our resources are now being shared with you at no cost, but it does cost us something to produce them. Your gift would help us tremendously. And if you gave, maybe you would see it as another way to identify with the Center, because it is your ministry. It would also be another way to spread holiday cheer.
If you are wondering how you can continue supporting this ministry and impact others with its resources, would you consider offering them a Christmas gift by submitting a one-time donation via PayPal @C4CreativeMinistry (ht
You could also mail a check to:
Center for Creative Ministry
Milton-Freewater, OR 97862
Your donations ensure that your ministry continues both in your hands and the hands of thousands of others.
We need your help and we need your prayers that God will continue to lead us as we deal with new realities.
Monte Sahlin | Chair of the Board
The Center for Creative Ministry is fully recognized by the North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; it is also a 501c3 nonprofit organization which makes donations tax deductible in the U.S.