Entertaining Strangers

Recently in a ladies’ Bible study, we studied 1 Timothy 5:10.  “And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.”

This passage in context is explaining what qualifications should be considered for a faithful widow to be allowed help from the local church.  But logical thinking could deduce that if these widows were called to have lived a life evident in these qualities, this is a great list for us younger ladies to be striving towards!

I'm in the thick of bringing up children at the moment.  My three young boys demand most of my time and energy, which is the way things should be at their age.  However, that does not excuse me from pursuing these marks of a faithful woman found in 1 Timothy.  As I first read through this list, I started to feel despair that I am falling very short of the mark.  But then God reminded me that there are many ways I can fulfill these truly good things.

Lena and her 'little brother' Jesse on Prom Night

Lena and her 'little brother' Jesse on Prom Night

One specific way came to mind is that I've always enjoyed being hospitable.  Play dates, dinners, game nights, bonfires, birthday parties and many other events scatter our calendar year ‘round.  My family has also had a special opportunity to practice hospitality long term by hosting exchange students.

Our first student fell into our family’s lap in 2008.  We had not even considered hosting when we found out about a girl, Lena, from Germany looking to study abroad.  There were only a few days left for her to be placed with a family before her dream to come to the US would be crushed.

We considered prayerfully if we could offer the one spare room in our small home.  Could we afford to feed her?  Would she mind that we had a 6 month old baby?  Questions and uneasiness ran through our minds as we considered the pros and cons.  Ultimately, though, we knew that God was calling us to entertain this stranger in our home for nine months and He would provide all that we needed to do it.

Anna with her little 'brother' Jesse, her date for homecoming

Anna with her little 'brother' Jesse, her date for homecoming

While there are many horror stories out there about hosting exchange students, we were blessed with a wonderful experience with Lena.  We loved it so much that when we moved a few years later, we did it again!  Our home was bigger this time, our family was larger, and, in 2012, we welcomed Anna in. 

Some could argue that it was financially silly for us to feed and house these girls when our budget was tight.  Maybe so, but we looked at it as a worthy investment.  These girls could have been placed in any home, yet they had a chance to live with a Christian family.  They saw our faith and foibles first hand.  There were of course trials and ruffled feathers, but we said goodbye at the end of the school year to another family member, not a stranger. 

Consider how you could use your home to fulfill one of your callings as a Godly woman.  Could you put to use the dining room table that is collecting dust?  What about that extra bedroom that you pile boxes in?  The new bonfire pit you just put in?

If hosting an exchange student for a year seems that too big of a commitment for your family, here are some other options to consider:

  • Host an international student over Christmas break when universities close down
  • Invite members of a mission team to use your basement instead of a hotel
  • Offer a room in your home to a house mom working with The Daughter Project or another similar ministry
  • Host a dinner for the new family on your street who you've been meaning to meet
  • Invite the empty-nesters next door over for a bonfire and games (they would probably love to spend time with small children for a few hours again)!

Whatever you decide, don't believe the lie that you are just not in a season where hospitality is an option.  If you wait until you have everything together and in place, you may never get there.  Choose instead to bless someone else (and yourself in the process) by opening your home.  You never know what could happen!  Hebrews 13:2 says, 

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  

See you in the Round!

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