Tag Archives: hospitality

The stalled car

Recently a friend shared this story with me. He emigrated to the USA from Norway as a young man. One day he was driving along a busy road in the Seattle area and his car broke down.

This occurred on a Sunday morning. He stood by his car, not knowing what else to do, and watched as car after car whizzed past him.  He could tell that many of those passing him by were on their way to church.

Finally, a car slowed down and pulled over. The driver got out. He was dressed in shirt and tie. His wife and three children, were also dressed for church.

That family spent several hours helping my needy friend. They missed church that day.

They WERE the church that day.

My friend and the family are still good friends after many years.

Love that is worthy of Christ is often inconvenient.

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The tired traveler and the taxi man

I heard a cool story today and want to pass it along to you.

A man flew in from a country in Asia. He was a Muslim. He had flown many long hours and was exhausted when he arrived. He was supposed to be picked up at the airport by someone, but when he landed there was no one looking for him. He waited for a long time, wondering what to do in this strange new land.

A member of the Ethiopian church in Seattle was driving taxi that night. He saw the stranded traveler. Approaching him, the Ethiopian asked the immigrant if he could help, even offering to give him a ride and let him stay overnight at home.  The traveler gladly accepted, spending not just one night but two. The next day, the Christian helped the visitor contact his friends, who came for him.

Some while later, that visitor decided to visit a church in Seattle. When he entered, he looked up on the platform and who was preaching that day but the very taxi driver who gave him transport and lodging! He soon declared that whatever that taxi driving preacher believed is what he wanted to believe also. And he placed his trust in Christ.

Let’s keep our eyes open for ways we can welcome the stranger. Our loving actions, even when small, send a clear message!


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She invited workmate to dinner…and laughed!

I love it when a friend shares with me their own journey to reach out in friendship to our new neighbors from distant lands. Here is one such story I know you will enjoy – we’ve changed the names. (By the way, do you have a story to share? Email it to us.) Another #NearFrontierTREK.

Julie and Nabila were coworker’s, and became quite close over the years. Finally, the day came when Julie felt she should extend an invitation to Nabila and her husband, Ahmed, to come to dinner at her home.

Before sitting down to dinner Julie explained that she and her husband John give thanks before eating, so, “John will say a prayer.”  After John finished praying Ahmed said,  “That was really nice.  I like that you pray before eating.”  Julie said, “We have so many reasons to be grateful, so that’s why it’s important to give thanks.”  They all agreed, even Ahmed and Nabila’s son nodded his head.

family mealDuring the course of the meal John and Julie asked how and where Ahmed and Nabila had met.  They grew up in the same Middle Eastern city, and theirs was an arranged marriage. Although their families would get together on occasion, along with Ahmed’s and Nabila’s brothers and sisters, Ahmed and Nabila were never allowed to speak to each other because of their future marriage.  We all fell off our chairs laughing when Nabila said, “Ahmed looked at me and said, ‘Good enough.'”  Ahmed just smiled, but then he said, “We truly learned to love each other.”

Julie offered that John and she also had an arranged marriage.  In surprised unison Ahmed and Nabila said, “You too?”   John said, “No no no no,” but Julie continued.  “Let me tell you our story.  I was at church seated at a table, and had noticed a new man (John) sitting at the table across from me.  As I listened to him talk I could tell that he had a deep love for God, and I began to pray, “God, please make it possible for me to meet this man.”  And, after the service John came to talk to me.  So that’s how God arranged our marriage.”  And Ahmed and Nabila understood.  Later on Nabila was talking about something and said, “…just like you prayed and God arranged your marriage….”

For a continuation of this relationship, click here.

Photo credit: cherebork.com


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Camping plan with my Muslim friend

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every Christian had a Muslim friend. That would mean that every Muslim would have a Christian friend.

Imagine how radical that could be if it spread throughout the entire world. The suspicion between groups would be reduced. We would find ourselves saying, “Well, actually, what you my brother are saying is not true, because I have a Muslim friend and he doesn’t have that hate in his heart. He is committed to his religion, but basically wants to live it, share it, and provide a better life for his family.”

I have been developing a friendship for the last couple of years with a Muslim family in my neighborhood. It is so cool that his kids come running when I come to their door, “Bob”!

A few years back I was given an aging tent trailer that needed work. I got it put together and have enjoyed some outings with it. Hussein, my friend, showed curiosity over the trailer, wondering what it was like when opened up. We exchanged wishes that we could go camping together sometime. I pondered this idea, wondering how we could pull this off. Long story short, on an impulse I decided to take a couple vacation days and camp at a nearby camp site. It is near enough to my neighborhood that I figured Hussein could drop by and check it out, even sleeping overnight if he wanted to.

campoutHere is a daytime picture of our site. I was disappointed that Hussein and his son Ali only came by one evening around 9pm (I was tired and actually heading toward bed). But we sat by the fire for awhile; then he wanted to see the inside of the trailer. He was fascinated by the amount of space inside, and the little gas stove.

What’s the point of this post? Friendship takes work, and flexibility. Friendship is worth it, and may mean more than appears on the surface. So that’s my latest #NearFrontiersTREK. Pray for a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist friend. Live the joy of Jesus before him, and leave the results to God.

Recently a buddy told me of a Jesus follower who was talking to a Muslim about religion. The Muslim asked the Christian if he had ever studied Mohammed. The Christian replied, “Well, years ago I encountered Jesus. I have been so fascinated with Jesus ever since that I have never felt the need to study anyone else.”

Let you light shine, whether your plans work out or not. God has a plan. Jesus is compelling. Let Him show.

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Who will push “Play” no matter the cost?

Read what has come before here.

You can’t take this journey vicariously. It won’t happen by reading a book or watching a documentary. Doesn’t happen by listening to a sermon. A church won’t become inclusive by saying, “Anyone is welcome here.” Because what that means is they can come as long as they are willing to do things our way. But ask us to adapt what we do to accommodate them, no way! Ask us to change? Hey, this is our church.

Do you want to know what it ffriendseels like for someone from another culture, another country, another religion to come into your church?  The same way you (a committed Christian) would feel by going to worship at a Buddhist temple. The same way you would feel when entering a mosque on Friday afternoon. Don’t be so ethnocentric as to think they would like it in your church.

Friend, the onus is on us, to invite them into our homes, and to go to theirs; to take difficult steps in a risky direction.

 Which leads to the third part of the adventure. Peter must have cringed when he heard where Cornelius lived: the town of Caesarea; hear it? “Caesar—ea” This was Rome central. Regiments of Italians probably marched nearby as Peter rode into town. Herod himself had a retreat here. The smell of pasta and fettuccine filled the air. The aroma of grilled pork, a stench to Jews, wafted across the streets.

Cornelius had called together all his relatives. As Peter approached, the Centurion ran to greet him, kneeling in respect. Peter entered the home and said, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)peter vision

Cornelius describes the visitation of the angel, with instructions to call for Peter. They are ready to listen. And Peter lifts up the hood to unveil the theological engine of the mission of God. “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)

Peter shares the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and granting of eternal life. The stamp of approval on this colossal new development comes with a thud — the Holy Spirit falls on them all. Peter concludes this is the same Spirit that had come upon the Jews not many months earlier, and baptizes them all in water.

What is the lesson here? To align the calling of our church with God’s mission, we must break the rules that protect our comfortable enclave. AND, we must be willing to be criticized by the powerful people who haven’t seen the vision.

That brings up back to where we began: on Pause.

The early church is scattering and on the move, but at a standstill in the mission of God—Jews speaking only to Jews. Word arrives that Peter, our senior pastor!, has gone to the home of a Roman centurion! And the Holy Spirit has been given to the Gentiles. The remaining elders in Jerusalem, when they hear this, drew silent, and glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:18).

So a few folks from Cyprus—islanders, that’s what you’d expect from them– and a few brothers from Cyrene – Africans, that explains it—they came into Greeksville and spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.

And the church got off Pause…

and Played.

You know what is fascinating? God has brought Romans and Hellenists right into your town! Many of them have never heard an explanation of who Jesus is. Many have never gotten to know a Jesus-follower. Many international students, many foreign-born engineers, medical practitioners, have never been invited into the home of an American. They’re cautious… but curious. And many of them have been called by God into His forever family.

Who will invite them home for a cup of tea?
Who will explain an English word, or show how a chocolate chip cookie is made?
Who will ask them how they are doing?
Who will take them to a ball game or a bowling alley, or a museum?
Who will offer to take them to their appointment or pick them up at the airport?

Those who see a new vision.
Those who take difficult steps in a risky direction
And those who break the rules that protect a comfortable enclave.
Those who push play, no matter the cost.

photocredit:  myocn.net



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Diaspora Consultation in South Carolina

I was privileged to speak recently at a Diaspora Mission Consultation in Columbia, South Carolina.  “What in the world is that?”  The idea was to encourage unity among Christians across cultural and denominational lines. For what purpose?  To encourage all of us to reach out beyond our own cultural groups to share the love of Christ with all others.

It was a great time, and included stories from different ethnic communities about how God is at work.  It is a great encouragement to see the breadth of the body of Christ, and be reminded that God is at work among all the nations of the earth, including those whom He is bringing here to America.

diaspora group

Mehari Korcho, who gathered the planning team that organized the event, will serve as our intern staff this year. It is a privilege to have him on our staff. Mehari challenged leaders to repent of only looking after their own group, based on his own journey in which God led him to repent of only ministering to Ethiopians. What a strong word for us today!

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It was thrilling to see our refugee family!

A friend of our ministry had her first experience welcoming a refugee family at the airport. It’s cool to feel her excitement! Another #NearFrontiersTREK. Read on!

refugee welcome
[Photo credit: Foxnews.com]

“Yesterday I had one of the most meaningful and moving evenings ever. Some friends and I are part of a “Welcome Team”  at our church that has begun to welcome people who have lost everything and are coming to LA to start their lives over. “Our” first family arrived last night. They are Kurdish refugees from northern Syria. We had to wait about three hours after the plane landed as they went through customs. Some of our group members had made a sign with their names on it in English and Arabic. When the family came up the ramp from the customs area, bewildered and exhausted, they saw the sign. They were confused and stunned. We had brought some flowers for the mom and little toiletry bags for all of them, and gifts for the kids (five of them, ages 15 to 5).

“It was incredible. They were so thankful to be greeted warmly. Some in our group speak Arabic, and the mother kept telling them, “I was so afraid, I was so afraid of what we would find when the plane landed.”

“They do not have an easy life ahead of them. They are receiving limited assistance from a non-profit organization for 90 days. They will receive government assistance for a limited time as well. Our goal is to help them attain independence as quickly as possible – help them find jobs, enroll their kids in school, figure out public transportation, get library cards, things like that. We also hope to become friends by sharing meals, going to parks together, and exploring their new home in Los Angeles with them.

“It is so hard to describe the beautiful connections and the hope that were created right there in the airport. I cannot imagine the losses they have experienced, nor the overwhelming task of starting over in a completely foreign country. They were in a refugee camp for three years, I think, as they went through the screening process to enter the US. One of the teen boys had shaved a star into his hair — for the USA, like the American flag, he explained.

“I understand that not all of my friends think that the US should welcome refugees. I also understand that there are many Americans who need help too. But I am so grateful that I got to be part of such a profound act of love and grace. Tweet This We got to live out the words on the Statue of Liberty, and it was amazing.

There may be organizations in your area who assist with refugee resettlement.  Check out: 
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Hospitality for Jesus’ sake

One of my areas of growth is that of opening my home for hospitality to neighbors as well as fellow Jesus-followers. This is a new area for me because, since my wife went to heaven, I am now the cook! Anyone brave enough to come to my home and try my culinary experiments deserves some kind of medal (or an antacid)!

I previously shared about my steep learning curve as I invited my Muslim neighbors over for dinner. I had hoped to use some beef patties I already had, only to be reminded by a friend that my neighbors may require halal beef!  You can read about it in my prior post called Dinner with my neighbors.

Well, I recently had the idea of inviting people from my local church over to my home after the Sunday morning worship service in order to have some personal interaction with our first missionary. I announced it as a potluck (which I have always defined as “pick a pot and try your luck!”) so that we would not starve. But I also knew I should fix something in case others could not bring food.

So I emailed my daughter who loves to hunt online for recipes, “Please can you find me hospitality Christiansome easy crock-pot recipes that I can just pour in canned stuff?”(dumb right?).  She came back with several options that were (I guess ) on the easy side.  So I decided on the tortilla soup, and, if I do say so myself, it came out DELICIOUS! (Notice the way chicken soup was meant to be… big chunks of chicken!)

More importantly, we had a tasty casual meal. Others brought salad, sandwiches, pizza, and cookies. We had nice conversation around the table, and then adjourned to the living room for a time of prayer for our missionary. As everyone left, I felt gratified that my home had been used again for God’s work.

Tweet This  Raise a glass to trying new recipes and hospitality for Jesus’ sake!

What experiences have you had in opening your home?


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Invite Muslims to pray to Jesus for answers

Here is a recent encounter by one of our U.S. workers:

 womanLast Wednesday, I just happened to meet Aisha*, my Muslim friend, in the parking lot of the apartments when I was out walking with our grandson.  I invited her to join me on my walk, but she responded that she was very hungry and needed to eat something.  I said, “You could come over and eat at our house. I have some chicken macaroni soup that I could warm up for you.” She immediately said yes that she would like that and we walked together to our apartment.  Over the soup, we discussed her feelings of depression because someone had argued his atheistic views with her and shaken her already feeble faith.  She has been a Muslim all her life, but is now against all religions.  She does, however still believe in God.

After eating she asked me if we could take our walk.  During our walk she turned to me and said, “I remember one time seven or eight years ago, I was walking and looking down when a woman approached me.  She said, “If you want your prayers answered ask Jesus and He will answer your prayers.”  Aisha responded to her, “Why should I pray to Jesus when I can pray to Muhammad?”  She responded with a smile, “All the prophets are good, but if you want your prayers answered ask Jesus.”’  Aisha looked at me and said, “I still remember her face.  She wasn’t like a normal human.  No matter what I said she smiled and spoke gently to me.  I think she might not have been human.”  I told Aisha, “God does send His angels and she could have been an angel, but remember this.  God was reaching out to you even eight years ago and there are probably other times He has tried.”  (She had told me that God had never reached out to her in her fifteen years of searching for Him).

Later she said, “Can you see how sad I am?  I need hope.”  I shared how Jesus wants to fill her with His hope, joy and peace and that all she needs to do is to call out to Him.  She said, “Yes, I think I need to do that.”  We had a good talk and she told me she wanted to join me at church on Sunday.

Aisha came to the church service.  She had me promise to secrecy.   As Aisha and I walked into the church, she said, “I tried to go to church in my country, but I could not.”  “Was that because you were a Muslim?” I asked.  She said that it was.  Since her home country is an Islamic State everyone that is born there is automatically a Muslim. Of course, that does not include those born to Christians.  However, if you are born into a Muslim family, you have no choice.  You are Muslim.  Aisha is on a journey and longs for a relationship with God.

Tweet This  Invite Muslims to pray to Jesus if they want answers. #NearFrontiersTREK

*name has been changed
(Photo credit: dailystar.co.uk)


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Thanksgiving feast beyond the food

In my ongoing effort to bring you to places where followers of Jesus are engaging the nations here in America, I offer you another escapade to the mission frontier. This one adds another level of gratitude to our Thanksgiving holiday.

Picture this scene. Two young families, each with two children, sitting around a dinner table in an Thanksgiving mealAmerican home, having enjoyed a full turkey dinner. The hostess had explained each dish as a part of American tradition. Both families are refugees, one from Iran the other from Afghanistan. Sitting around the table are six American Christians.

Now the group enjoys tea and dessert. The host announces that we are going to have a brief story about the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. A friend has prepared an account of the coming of the pilgrims, the help of native Americans in growing crops, the spread of disease, the harvest and sense of gratitude.  He tells of the declaration by Congress of a day for thanking God. The story is appreciated by all.

Then the friend passes around verses from the Bible printed nicely on paper slips and invites each person around the table to read the verse and, if desired, to share something they are thankful for. The refugees are working on their English, so there is some assistance given on more difficult words (like “ceasing,” and “petition”).  Since holy scripture is respected, all seem to take the words of the Bible with seriousness.

Surrounding this event ring the laughter of kids and cries of babies. Side conversations develop, brief stories told, geographical and sports questions answered. But as I sit in that place, the wonder of the evening is alight in my heart.  Tweet This  I am joyful that God is bringing the nations to us, not in dribbles but in droves. The words of the prophet seem true again:

“Look among the nations and watch — be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. (Habakkuk 1:5)



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