I was welcomed
In my early twenties I decided to move a thousand miles away from my close-knit group of friends. Although Spokane brought me closer to my biological family, I longed for a community of deep friendships and it took a long time and, importantly, a lot of hospitality to form.
There were many instances of hospitality that drastically changed my status from feeling alone to making friends at last.
I met Jen after church one day. She was around my age and very outgoing. She asked for my number and we got together for coffee quickly after meeting. She had just decided to be my friend and worked hard to include me in things I would have otherwise been alone for, like the Super Bowl and New Year’s Eve. And it wasn’t just Jen who swooped me up, her whole family welcomed me.
A few years later at a new church that I was visiting for the first time (alone) Vickie introduced herself to me during the greeting time. Afterwards, she led to around to meeting other single women and even gave me her number. We didn’t connect further at that time but her welcome was one of the big reasons I continued to attend that church and it is now my home church!
In the awkward process of getting connected to groups at church, I went (again, alone) to a “post-college” age group. Alana and Krina from the group intentionally got to know me. They took me to lunch after church and arranged it so that I could drive with them to a retreat the group was having later that month. They were so kind to me as they got to know me.
Hospitality means “love of strangers.” Each person I mentioned loved me and welcomed me when I was a stranger. And their welcome truly changed my life. Not only did I make friends, I connected to a local church in a way that I had never done before. And in that church I met my husband and got involved in ministry in ways that now allows me to welcome others as I was welcomed.
Have you been welcomed in this way? Who has shown you hospitality? And how can we emulate those who have been our examples?
Romans chapter 12 verses 9-13 instructs us to “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor... Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Hospitality is so practical. It’s one way that you display the love you have for others and for Jesus. It shows that you are willing to put the needs of others above your own and provides the opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level than you would otherwise. You cannot meet people’s needs if you don’t know them and you can’t know them without spending time with them.
Who should hospitality be extended to?
We ought to be on the lookout for “strangers.” Is the couple or individual sitting by you in church new to the church or to your city? Ask them to lunch. Is there a widow you know who is likely lonely and not eating well? Invite them over for brunch. Who of your friends group is still single after the rest have gotten married? Reach out to them for coffee or tea. Did someone new start at your job? Talk to them at lunch and be a resource to help them.
Who else can you think of that may be lonely, hurting or feeling alone? And how can you reach out to them to be their friend?
Where is hospitality shown?
Hospitality is typically shown in the home but hospitality can truly take place anywhere. You can show hospitality in a restaurant or coffee shop or your church foyer or your messy living room.
Don’t allow not having a lot of space or having less-than-ideal space hold you back from inviting people over to your home. I like to at least pick up around the house before we have people over but no one has ever been concerned about my dust or dirty floors.
What is the end goal of hospitality?
Romans chapter 15 verses 5-7 tells us the end goal of welcoming others in Paul’s prayer: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Christ welcomed us when we were strangers. And so we seek to welcome others that God may be glorified. May God be glorified is us as we pursue hospitality!
Ashley Mullins is the wife of Chris and a new employee at a health insurance company. They currently live in Spokane, Washington after a time of being far away, first in the Los Angeles area in California and then in Malawi, Africa for a year.