Blog > Practicing Hospitality
By Rhonda Dippon – HCC Volunteer
To see Rhonda’s original blog post, click here.
Hospitality is another one of those words that is on many gift lists. However, I do not think hospitality is a spiritual gift. It is never listed as a gift in any of the spiritual gift lists in the Bible. It is listed in close proximity as intercession but never as a gift. I believe that as Christians, we are supposed to be practicing hospitality to others. I don’t think this is one of those practices that we should be opting out of by saying, “It’s not my spiritual gift.”
Jesus practiced hospitality in many ways. Think about how he accommodated the crowds of people who followed him everywhere, who flocked around Him when they heard He was coming to their area. He healed, he preached, he played with the children, he listened. He made room for the throngs of people, and He made time for individuals. We have a good example of how Jesus did it. What we don’t see is Jesus inviting people into His home because he relied on the hospitality of others to house Him.
So how do we practice hospitality? I’ll tell you how to do it. One way is to invite people into our home for various occasions: dinners, celebrations, holidays, parties. This can be family, friends, almost strangers or total strangers.
Another way I have practiced hospitality is by hosting Chinese people in our home from anywhere from three days to four months. We had two at the time stay in our home from the end of August through mid-December. They were participating in a cultural program at the U of M. They each had their own bedroom and shared a bathroom. That meant cooking dinners for them and providing some transportation and entertainment. The first two girls entered into our culture with open arms. We took them to different types of restaurants every weekend, went to parks, malls, and other adventures. We treated them like daughters, and they responded in kind.
So we did it again. One of these girls was not into embracing our culture, and it was a tough semester. The other girl wanted to enter into our culture but was torn between her friend and what she was here for. She finally decided to let her friend be difficult, and she became a joy to us. The other girl, unfortunately, did not enjoy her stay and caused us a few problems. That sometimes happens when you open up your home to strangers and offer hospitality. Some will respond positively to your hospitality, but some will not. In my experience, the difficult ones are rare. Most people are very grateful for extended hospitality.
After those experiences, we began hosting through the Hospitality Center for Chinese. I became involved there by joining a conversation class. When the women kept asking me about American cooking, I started a cooking class there and taught it for three years. The Hospitality Center exists to offer hospitality to Chinese coming to the Twin Cities to either study or work at the U of M. Most are graduate students, doctoral students or post-docs doing research.
The hosting involves picking them up at the airport and having them stay with us until they can find and move into an apartment—usually 3-14 days. We are extending hospitality to strangers and opening our home and our arms to them. These have all been very good experiences for us. We are showing them that Americans welcome them, but mostly that Christians welcome them. During those few days with them, we offer them a place to stay, feed them and taxi them around a bit. Then we help them move into their apartment. We have kept in contact with many of our students to varying degrees during their stays here—inviting them to holiday celebrations, dinners, game nights, and such. Some are more open to this than others. And my family is very welcoming of them at family celebrations, which helps a lot.
All totaled, we have hosted 11 Chinese through HCC for a total of 15, including the other four. As I write this, we have 3 Chinese girls living with us for the week! They’ve been delightful! Yes, it takes a certain amount of work, but it’s been well worth it. We get to introduce them to an American home, our family, and our Christian faith. We invite them to church with us, and they always go at least once because they feel obligated. But many have expressed joyful surprise at how they felt in church. They feel welcomed; they sense joy and peace at church. They ask questions about Christianity. We share openly; we pray before meals; we act like our Christian selves. If they become Christians during their stay here, yea! If they don’t, we still love them and treat them like family.
That’s my story, but you may practice hospitality in other ways. Maybe you feed the homeless, or provide rides for people or help immigrants get settled. There are a myriad of ways to share hospitality. What’s yours?