My dear friend Jessie is sharing her heart as my guest blogger today. I’m also excited to share with you about her new book Loving the Stranger: Welcoming Immigrants in the Name of Christ.
Thousands fleeing war.
You read the heart-breaking headlines with one eye on the news story, one eye on an almost-boiling pot on the stove, and one eye on a rambunctious toddler or three (you have more than two eyes, right, including the ones in the back of your head?).
Your compassion is stirred, your concern is raised, and you long to “get out there” and help the hurting in this sick, sad world. But then you sigh as you’re drawn back to reality…
In the time it took you to read the first paragraph of this article, the pot you forgot boiled over, one of the toddlers is wailing in the next room, and you just remembered you have to pay the water and electricity bills today.
Not to mention the fact that finances are tight, you’re dog-tired from getting up with the baby at 3 am (and 4 am, and 5 am), and your passport expired three years ago.
You want to reach the world, but how in the world…?
I have good news for you, Dear Mama. I know your heart beats with desire to be involved in fulfilling the Great Commission (“go and make disciples”) and the Great Commandment (“love your neighbor as yourself”).
I know you’re trying. I know you want to do more for the world but feel like your world is so small, only made up of your home, your husband, and your little, little kids.
God sees you where you are, and He is pleased. But here’s the exciting thing: He has brought and is bringing a strategic ministry to you, right to your doorstep.
You don’t even have to step outside — you just have to invite this ministry in.
What is this ministry? It is nothing less than being an ambassador of the Welcoming God who loves the stranger (Deut. 10:18) and sets the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6).
The lonely strangers I’m talking about are immigrants (refugees, people who came for work, international students…) from literally every country in the world, including members of many unreached people groups who have never before heard the Good News about Jesus.
I promise you, fulfilling the Great Commission is something you can do in the midst of the busyness of your daily schedule.
All it requires is opening your (everyday) life and inviting people in, making room in your (ordinary, Jesus-loving) heart and room at your (messy kitchen) table for one or two more.
You don’t have to set aside certain hours (and arrange a babysitter!) in order to be involved in ministry. Rather, your everyday life is the very thing that immigrants are missing the most about their own lives.
Home. Family. Belonging.
Losing these things is one of the most painful aspects of crossing a culture. And one of the most powerful things we can do for culture-crossers is to welcome them into our own homes and families, inviting them to belong with us.
Alicia has written beautifully about hospitality before, but I just want to offer a quick reminder that hospitality — opening your home — is not the same as entertaining.
Entertaining has its place for sure, but it’s not a biblical command. Hospitality is. Hospitality is much more natural and organic than entertaining.
Entertaining is putting on a show (often a very fun and enjoyable one!), while hospitality is inviting others behind the scenes. In hospitality, there is no need to roll out the red carpet or do things in a more fancy way than usual.
The only thing that is needed is a little extra room at the table for another plate, another person, another life.
Hospitality is making room in your real life for the real life of another, even a “stranger.” As they gather around your everyday kitchen table, strangers cease to be strangers and instead become friends. And kitchen table friends naturally become family over time, because you’re doing life together. Invite internationals into your normal rhythms, your everyday weeknights, your mundane moments.
What they are missing is not novelty, but normalcy. Dinner can be rotisserie chicken or boxed macaroni and cheese – the important thing is that love and connection will be on the menu. Hospitality is simply openness, saying, “Come in! To my home, my heart, my life.”
Openness simply means inviting others into our daily routine wherever we can.
It means thinking, “Since I’m going to the grocery store, I’m going to call Fadila and see if she needs groceries, since I know she doesn’t have a car,” or “Johnny has a tee-ball game tonight and the weather’s nice…maybe I can call Maria and see if she’d like to sit in the bleachers with us and watch.”
Openness is keeping our eyes wide open to the opportunities God brings our way right smack- dab in the middle of our busy lives.
It means resisting the tendency to shut people out when things get hectic. Instead, it means intentionally inviting others into the hectic, into the crazy-busyness. Illusions of perfection maintained by keeping others on the outside of our lives are not helpful for any kind of true friendship, including cross-cultural friendship.
Openness invites others into our real lives, following Paul’s example in ministry, when he said about the Thessalonians: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thess 2:8, emphasis mine).
Your simple willingness to open your home and invite strangers to become friends and even family around your kitchen table in the midst of a busy, normal life will speak volumes about your open heart, and testify to God’s heart for the stranger.
You can impact the world, Mama, just by opening your door.
Want to get involved in welcoming immigrants but don’t know how to get started? For an encouraging how-to guide chock-full of practical ideas for how Mamas of little ones can get involved in reaching the world on their doorstep, check out Jessie’s new book: Loving the Stranger: Welcoming Immigrants in the Name of Christ.
Do you know someone who might benefit from this post or from the book? Share this post to let them know!