Emerging from COVID with a Commitment to Hospitality
I used to work as an ESL/EFL teacher at a language school, and I remember having a conversation with the school’s housing director back in 2017, when she asked us if my husband and I were fine having a Japanese boy stay at our house for about a year.
My answer was essentially, “Sure, why wouldn’t we?”
For my husband and me, this was pretty much a no-brainer; we had both been international students for a time, and we both relied heavily on people who were well-versed in the ways of day-to-day life. To have the opportunity to be that for someone else was important for both of us.
The housing coordinator asked me because she said it had always been very difficult finding homestay families–especially for long-term commitments, males, and Middle Easterners. She said she was desperate for networking opportunities to find more homestay families, and I mentioned she should go around to churches in the area.
“I have,” she said, “and most turned me away.” It took me a minute to respond because I was so stunned.
Now, I get it. Our homes are our safe places. We want our evenings open, our couches primed, and our various streaming services ready for binging. Who would want a practical stranger living in their house, like another child? And what about communication issues? Or cultural differences? And for the workers in church offices who said the congregation wouldn’t be interested, I can understand a visit like this maybe felt like soliciting.
But when someone comes and asks for hospitality, aren’t we commanded to give it? Hebrews 13:1-2 is one of several passages that clearly says we should not neglect to show hospitality to strangers:
“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:1-2, ESV).
Hospitality seems to have become a dying act of service, and I mean even before COVID. But as we come out of this very difficult season of COVID, faced with the dark reminder of racism and hate throughout the world, several of us are really anxious to reconnect and deepen loving relationships with those we haven’t seen in a while–especially those who are racially or culturally different than we are.
So let me encourage you to consider hospitality as an act of discipleship.
Let me begin with this: in all acts of hospitality, it is important to remember all things come from God and should therefore be used to glorify God (James 1:17, Romans 11:36). This includes your home and everything inside it. So you can use everything you have for the sake of hospitality, and 1 Peter 4:9 reminds us we should do this without grumbling.
When it comes to hospitality, there also needs to be wisdom for safety’s sake. Matthew 10:16 tells us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Don’t invite a stranger into your home if you are alone, for example. Be wise in your hospitality, and pray for the Spirit to guide you before you act.
The way of Jesus is to share and share from the bottom of your heart, not wanting to be repaid, as Luke 6:34-35 says. And don’t let excuses cloud your ability to be hospitable! You do not have to be skilled, your house does not have to clean, your pantry does not need to be full, etc.
Give what God has given you to bless others.
In my next article, we will look at some very practical (and perhaps unexpected) ways we can show hospitality as we emerge from COVID.