Monday, October 25, 2010

Hospitality -- what does that mean?

Lou & I have been running the Hospitality House in Kaiserslautern for over a year now. In the past year, we have been asked "What is a Hospitality House"? We have described it as a "home away from home", a "safe place for folks to explore Christianity", a "place where folks can come and fellowship and study the Bible", etc. But, I have been meditating on the meaning of being hospitable.

As part of my devotions, I read Our Daily Bread, published by Radio Bible Class in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Not too long ago, there was a day devote to "Pursuing Hospitality". As I reflected on the Romans passage and the I Peter passage dealing with hospitality, I found myself wondering if I'm truly hospitable.

The author, David McCasland, was stated that "hospitality is a hallmark of Christian living...and is commanded for every follower of Jesus as an expression of love." But what does that truly mean? Is hospitality just opening up my home and welcoming people? Is it being friendly to those who enter my home?

Mr. McCasland showed me that the Greek word for hospitality means "love of strangers". God is calling us to pursue relationships with people in need. But, who is in need? In our ministry, Lou & I practice hospitality by spending time with military personnel and their families. Some of them are married with children, some are married with no kids, some are single. They all come for various backgrounds, different upbringings, women & men, Hispanics, African Americans and Caucasians -- all enter our home. Yet, how do they leave?

For us, our hearts desire is that people feel welcomed, loved, supported and treated as family. Our hope is that our home and ministry will allow them to connect with other people, experience the love of Jesus and their needs - whether physical, emotional or spiritual - are met. And leave being a friend and no longer a stranger.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Serving our German Neighbors

Last weekend, we had an opportunity to serve our German neighbors. We received a phone call informing us that a local vineyard owner had been killed in a freak tractor accident. His wife had no way of harvesting the grapes in time to make the deadline to create the wine. This is her livelihood and if the vineyard wasn't harvested timely, she would not have any income for the next year.

We teamed with the Spangdahlem hospitality house and took about 20 folks to this vineyard. We picked grapes for a couple of hours and enjoyed a nice lunch. We finished the afternoon picking more grapes. We worked along side about 20 other German folks. Some were her neighbors, some were professional "grape pickers" that were donating their day to her, some were her family. Vido - the man that was our point of contact - kept telling us that the Germans were shocked to see Americans giving up their day to help with a woman they didn't even know.

We worked along side them all day. A couple of them spoke English, so during the lunch time, we sat together and got to know one another a little more. The widow made us a lovely meal. We were initially told to bring a sack lunch; but she was so touched by the generosity, she cooked for us all. We ate at the top of a hill within the vineyard. We learned that her husband would eat lunch there every day and rest inside the Chapel. She told us that it was a special memory for her and it touched her that we all were able to see something that was special to her husband.

We hope by serving just for a few hours at this vineyard that people could see something different about us. We didn't do it for the thanks we received, for the yummy food and wine we enjoyed, but hopefully to touch a widow's heart and to help support her in a tangible way. We hope she experienced a bit of Jesus' deep, deep love for her through our service.