Adults

Summer Opportunities Abound

How’s your summer going? Have you been busy? What kinds of opportunities have you had? Have you served in a ministry? Participated in a missions project of some kind? Maybe Vacation Bible School or a community event? Is your schedule full? Are you running ragged? Or perhaps you’re at the beach—finally resting—feet propped up, sun block on, and cold lemonade in hand. Mmm, I can almost taste it. . . . Rest is a good thing, too! Wherever we find ourselves this summer, opportunities abound.

I love the summertime. It has a different feel. Feet in the sand, sun on our faces; even if we’re working, running errands, or taking care of others, we can sometimes sense an energy with more hours of daylight and time to take a few breaks.

The good news is that God created summers. They were His idea! He also made us in His image, which means that we can get creative, too. In the summer, we sometimes have a different schedule that lends itself to drawing out our creative side. We may have many different opportunities to choose from, or we can create some of our own! What have you been thinking about this summer?

Henna Storying

Knowing hundreds of Southern Baptists would pray for me on my birthday, I decided to share the gospel on that day with as many Muslim women as possible. I invited six co-workers to join me in a visit to an outlying park in our Central Asian city. We took henna paste and a sign saying, “Free henna tattoo with a story.”

Many women stopped to sit for the tattoo and listen to the story. One woman announced, “They’re doing henna tattoos and telling Bible stories, and it’s like they are worshipping God.”

One middle-aged woman named Zeynap* stopped with her sister and baby. As she sat for the tattoo, I began the story, “In the beginning, God created the world and it was a perfect place.” I shared the story of the Fall and the story of the Savior. Zeynap was touched and wanted a Bible. She said, “I’ve been visiting old Orthodox churches looking for someone to ask about Jesus and trying to get a Bible.”

She came to church with me the next Sunday. The pastor told the story of Nicodemus. After the service, Zeynap whispered to me, “Today I was born again.” We’ve been meeting for discipleship ever since.

Mary-like Hospitality in a Martha World

“Have you had dinner yet?” our neighbor asked.

“No,” we replied.

The next thing I knew, my roommate and I were eating a dinner of fried egg and a South Asian sweet in the home of our Muslim neighbors.

We had talked with them only as we passed by on the street, but a simple dinner invitation got us into their home and gave us a chance to get to know them better.

The hospitality in South Asia rivals that of the southern United States, any day, anytime. Whenever I’m invited into a home, I can expect to enjoy a cup of hot tea and warm cookies or even a full meal.

My roommate and I have been able to return the hospitality, having friends over for holiday parties and having curious neighbors over to see our apartment. Regardless of the why, we take these opportunities to share our faith with whoever enters our home.

Hosting someone in your home is a big deal to South Asians, and they show their appreciation for the person visiting them by being gracious hosts and serving lots of food.

WMU in the New Year

The summer season is quickly coming to a close. Before you know it, it will be time to start the new church year. What are you as a leader doing to prepare for the new year in WMU?

If you have not considered attending training in your state, then you should definitely look into it.

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Creating Space: Christ and Hospitality

Creating space for others—it’s what I think of when I focus on hospitality. And as mothers, we know a thing or two about creating space for other people. I would imagine a few of you have some little person invading your space even as you read this.

A long, wooden table filled a spread worthy of Pinterest with fresh bread, decorations for the season, chicken spiced and cooked well, and vegetables straight from the garden—this is what I believe our culture wants us to think of hospitality.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the external features of hospitality and forget the internal characteristics of what it means to be hospitable people. However, as we look at Scripture and the example Christ set for us, we find a hospitality focusing much more on the relationship between the guest and the host rather than the presentation.

Christ welcomed the least of these.

Simple Hospitality

Bill and Betty were a sweet couple in our church. Several years ago, Betty and I were involved in a mentoring group where she was my mentor.

Our times together were encouraging. Yet they were nothing elaborate. Betty just simply invited me into her home for conversation each week. We shared coffee and some of Bill’s fabulous desserts. He was quite the cook!

Just a few years ago, they both went to be with the Lord just 1 day apart. When I heard of their deaths, I was sad; however, God reminded me of their gracious hospitality and encouragement when I needed it the most.

He also reminded me that I need to find someone to whom I can show hospitality. I have such a great example of what that looks like, so I have no excuse. Will you join me in showing hospitality to someone today?

Real-Life Relationships and Hospitality

I’ve been “taken in” by friends a few times in my life. This has ranged from moving into a friend’s basement for 2 weeks between gaps in apartment leases to my campus minister allowing me to be in her home regularly. In each extreme, I was able to better observe what “real life” in my friends’ lives looked like. My campus minister walked through the single, dating, and engaged phases in a 3-year span in my life. I learned more about how to conduct myself in each of those stages because of my time with her. My friend who lent out her basement also opened her home. I was engaged at the time and got a glimpse of what life as a wife, mother, and full-time employee looked like. In each situation, I was inspired to walk into the next phase of my life with more grace and understanding than when I started.

Hospitality on Mission

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2).

Hospitality is often thought of as an event usually in someone’s home where people are entertained. However, hospitality goes so much deeper than that. Hospitality is an attitude of welcome. It does not matter what kind of home you own or how good a cook you are. It just means you welcome others with open arms.

How can you use hospitality in a missional way? It’s quite easy, actually. It’s as simple as inviting unsaved friends, family, or neighbors into your home. When people feel welcomed, they are more open to hearing about the gospel.

Provide them with a meal and conversation where you learn more about them and their needs. As you learn more about them, you can begin to share the gospel and relate it to their current situation in life.

Lessons from around Dinner Tables

I’m usually confused when I see hospitality listed as one of the spiritual gifts. The others seem more tied to spirituality and ministry. The gifts of discernment, encouragement, and leadership are so obviously linked with the Holy Spirit and the daily Christian walk that the gift of hospitality, for me, seems only distantly related.

The idea of outstanding hospitality in our global culture is so foreign that I have stopped expecting it from others and even stopped focusing on it myself. It was only on a short trip to Ireland that I learned hospitality means something more than simply maintaining a house.

Over the course of a week while studying abroad, 2 friends and I took a road trip through the Irish countryside and then ended up in Dublin for a few days. Overall, the Irish people were welcoming and kind enough, but we were not expecting the hospitality we received.

Space for Opportunities

When you think about hospitality, are you like me and feel a little challenged? We can find some encouragement in the fact that the Bible teaches us to “practice hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). It gives us the idea that we don’t have to be perfect. We are practicing!

I was reminded of this recently, as we had a beautiful Hispanic family over for a meal. The parents have been believers for about 8 years. They radiate God’s goodness and are seeking to know His will in their lives and what mission God has for them. It was a simple slow cooker meal with water and chocolate chip cookies. And a candle. And smiles. And laughter. And checkers. And music. And a bottle for the baby. And sharing. And God. We were all tired after a long day, but we were better together. What a blessing. I am still enjoying the renewing warmth of just being the family of God.

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