Takeshi was visibly shaking when he walked into our living room for the first time, accompanied by the director of the ELI (English Language Institute) program at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. A year later, he admitted to my husband and I what was quite apparent: he was terrified of coming to live with an American family, only 48 hours after arriving in the United States for the first time. Like so many other Japanese and Korean students (and a handful of other nationalities), he became like a son to us, and still calls us his “American parents”. Our children grew to love him, as well as each international student who came to our house every Monday night for six years for dinner, worship, and Bible study. They came not only to learn English, but to experience American culture, and additionally, (from our perspective) to encounter their loving Creator. Statistics show that fewer than 3% of internationals who visit the USA ever step foot inside an American family's home. Click To Tweet What an opportunity to spread good will, share one’s faith, demonstrate to our children the value of serving others, learn a new language and culture, become more self-less instead of ego-centric, mentor and bless others — all through the practice of hospitality!
As a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, I was reminded this week about Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross (and a NSDAR member). Before her father died during the Civil War, he convinced Clara that it was her duty as a Christian to help the soldiers. Her efforts helped build schools, hospitals (and vastly improve deplorable hospital conditions, which killed more soldiers than the war itself), and many other incredible accomplishments. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Barton ) Hospitality and mercy are a powerful combination which truly changes history, affecting countless lives and destinies.
A prostitute named Rahab assumed great risk by harboring two spies sent by their commander, Joshua. Their assignment was to scope out the city of Jericho before it was overthrown and given to the children of Israel by God. Her hospitality and sacrifice resulted in not only bringing millions of Hebrews into “the promised land”, but in her eventually marrying one of the princes of Judah and becoming part of the lineage of King David, and of Jesus the Messiah. (Holy Bible, Joshua Chapter 2)
One person’s hospitality and obedience to a divine calling changes history.
If you read my post, “Unmasking Fear“, you may recall that my 6th generation great-grandfather, John Hart was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In June of 1778, my grandfather invited General George Washington and his troops to stay at his farm for three days, right before the Battle of Monmouth, a pivotal battle during the war. Twelve thousand hungry and exhausted men consumed food, cattle, firewood (which had once been the fence that took my grandfather two years to build), and everything he owned. However, his sacrifice, his hospitality, was instrumental in changing the course of world history!
General Washington dined with my grandfather in the dining room of Hart’s house, still standing (and still a private residence) in Hopewell, New Jersey.
Hebrews 13:2 states a fascinating revelation: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers [show hospitality, welcome into your home], for thereby some have entertained [helped] angels unawares [without knowing they were angels].” This happend many times in ancient times (and still does), and inspired me to write the song “Entertaining Angels, Unaware”, which has become one of the most requested songs I perform (and has been recorded by four different artists). Hear the song HERE.
The man from Samaria who helped the beaten-and-left-for-dead stranger on the road, put him in a hotel (paying for his bill), fed him and bandaged his wounds, is known to the world as “The Good Samaritan”. (See Luke 10:25-37) What he probably considered a simple kindness –although quite inconvenient and costly to him– has inspired and challenged untold billions of people for two thousand years. There are innumerable historical and present-day examples of how hospitality and mercy have shaped history and made this world a better place. This is the kind of history we should repeat! On this Memorial Day, as we honor the fallen who have served so valiantly, let us vow to leave a legacy that will last beyond the grave.
Question: Can you recall when an act of hospitality (giving or receiving) affected your life or someone you know personally? Please SHARE in the comments.