Today I am interviewing Author and Speaker Dave Arnold.
Dave has a passion for hospitality and believes deeply in advocating for the stranger, the broken, and the displaced through helping them find their true Place – the Kingdom of God.
Dave works with refugees and immigrants in the Detroit-area.
Dave’s first book, Pilgrims of the Alley: Living out Faith in Displacement launched this week and is the main focus of our interview.
Here is the interview
Ngina: Tell us a little bit about yourself, who is Dave Arnold
Dave: I grew up on the East Coast in the DC-area, and at the age of seventeen, I gave my life to Christ. After I graduated high school, I went to a Christian college.
My first job was as a youth pastor; and, interestingly, God brought kids into my life who were displaced (kids from broken homes e.t.c) My wife and I have been been in full time ministry together since 1999.
Ngina: Tell us about the book, Pilgrims of the Alley
Dave: The idea of the book was first birthed in my heart in 2006 when I worked with World Relief Chicago, a refugee resettlement agency. It was there I met people from all over the world who had amazing stories: stories of hope and courage and perseverance.
And because I worked in the back alley of the World Relief office (where I loaded up a cargo van with donations and furniture) I met people on the streets as well – the homeless, prostitutes, addicts. And I began to think about how God is at work in the alley.
If I could sum up my book in one word, it would be hope. God is a God of hope. And my book captures this idea of hopefulness.
Ngina: In the book, you share on “the need to belong”. You believe that everyone has this need?
Dave: Yes. God created us to belong. But so many people in our world – people in our towns, work place, families – feel so alone. Some don’t even believe God notices them. But He does.
Maybe we don’t feel like we belong or fit in but we fit into God’s family… for His family is comprised of those who are the weak and broken and unnoticed of the world.
Ngina: Talk to us about “pennies”: hearing from God in unconventional ways
Dave: It’s true that God’s Word (the Bible) is authoritative. But He also reveals Himself to us in many ways. Through other people, through books, through music, through the stillness of our hearts. Elijah in the Bible, for example, heard God in a whisper.
Ngina: Many Christians have an inner longing for their heavenly home, which you call the “ache”. Can you explain this ‘ache’?
Dave: It’s that inner sense we get that says things are not okay in the world, that we are not okay. Sin – man’s rebellion against God and independence – has made a mess of things.
And although God gives us peace and comfort, the ache remains. It remains, I believe, (1) to push us to depend on God; and (2) to help us long and hope for what is to come – our Heavenly Home.
Ngina: How can Pilgrims of the Alley speak to someone longing to experience Jesus in their marriage relationship?
Dave: I believe God’s main purpose for creating marriage was for our holiness, more so than our happiness. God wants us to grow and change… and I can’t think of a better “place” to do that then in a marriage. It’s a mirror that reminds us of our ache. We need the reminder so we can grow and change.
Ngina: Your share that hospitality is the heart of God. As Christians how do we live out that truth?
Dave: One of the ways you can help people belong is by being hospitable – by opening your heart and home to people. It starts with your family, creating a place of warmth and belonging in your home.
Then it extends out to your community, your workplace, etc. It’s the idea of “inviting others in.” This is what God has done for us.
Ngina: Does hospitality and humility go together?
Dave: Yes I think so. When you practice hospitality, you are saying, “Hey, you matter. I am not better than you or somehow more important than you.” It’s equal footing. And really what does God look at? Our hearts – hearts that are open and humble.
Ngina: In the book you mention that many of your immigrant friends find America “too busy”. I find that to be true as well! Can we be less busy and still be useful (to God)?
Dave: Absolutely! I think it’s a huge issue here in the States. We are so busy we don’t even have time for God. We tend to put the focus on what we do and attaching value to that. But who you are is far more important than what we do. And really, I think what we do will flow out of us naturally when our identity is wrapped up in God.
Ngina: What has been your greatest lesson, working with refugees and immigrants?
Dave: I have been blown-away by many of the stories of courage and hope. I think of one woman I know from Burma and how she spent months traveling at night in the jungle to escape the oppressive army.
Although she was scarred, she prayed and trusted God to deliver here and her family. And they made it to a refugee camp in Thailand and eventually came to the States. She is one of my heroes. There are countless stories like that.
Ngina: I’ve had many funny (and not-so funny) encounters since moving to America, most brought about by different cultural backgrounds. Have you had any of that in your relationship with people outside your culture?
Dave: Oh yea. One day it hit me how easily I (and my American coworkers) at Word Relief talked so loudly at people. New immigrants for sure have a language problem, but most of them didn’t have a hearing problem.
Ngina: Any final thoughts?
Dave: The purpose of my book is to inspire you to live a life of hope and to never give up, no matter how hard life is. God never promises easy streets and smooth paths.
But He does promise His presence and His peace. I hope you walk away from reading my book inspired to deeply trust in a God who is constantly at work around us.
If you purchase Dave’s book before February 24th, you will receive free bonus items, including a video link about World Relief, and a PDF version of the book.
To be eligible for the bonuses, you need to email a copy of your receipt to Dave, firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll then receive the bonuses.
You will also be eligible for a $10 Starbucks gift card and a free eBook by Kimanzi Constable and a hard copy of the book, Heart for the Community.
Thanks for hanging out with us Dave!
Don’t forget to pick up Dave’s book on Amazon!