Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Hospitality

I am a big fan of hospitality. So is one of the guys who works for us. I have not told many stories about Eomer, after all he is just a driver. Well, more than a driver he is a child of God and a follower of Jesus and that makes him pretty special indeed. He and his wife are from a village in the south and are the only relatives in the family who live in Minas Tirith. This means that whenever someone comes to the Capitol for business or whatever they stay at Eomer's house. He has a small apartment and it is always full. Some of his relatives come for weeks at a time. He is the first in his extended family to come to faith- actually his wife came to faith first. But at any rate- or at least at the rate I am going- he has a very active ministry to his family through hospitality.

But he has over these last years been discouraged. He is a leader in his small house group and quite frankly, he is a fine pastor. But his group has remained a small committed seven to ten people week after week for years now. Last year something happened to change his perspective and I hope it will influence yours as well! Last year an uncle came to visit him back in the Spring. He was a committed Muslim who highly disapproved of Eomer's decision to follow Jesus. Of course, as a guest in Eomer's house he would not be too rude about it. He mostly just verbally attacked Eomer's wife and children when he went out to work. Eomer sat down with his uncle one night and said, 'Uncle, you are always welcome in my house. You will not talk about religion with me or my family again while you are here. There on my book shelf is a Bible and a Koran. If you want to know truth read them and then if you have any questions you can ask me.' This was pretty abrupt but it is almost word for word what he told me he said. His uncle did not leave. He stayed for three months. They began to wonder if he would ever leave! And then one night the Uncle sat down with Eomer and said, 'I have read much of the books. What is this part in the Koran about Jihad?' The Uncle asked if Jihad meant what he thought it did- that Muslims were at war with the rest of the world and needed to bring the message of Islam to everyone else and to count all non-Muslims as enemies of God. Eomer answered, 'It's your book.' The Uncle said no, this can not be true. Jesus says to love our enemies. Jesus says that there is forgiveness. This is the kind of God that he believed in. Well, it took a while but the Uncle came to faith and was baptized. After another month he said to Eomer, 'It is not right that I stay here any longer. I must go back to the village and tell everyone there about Jesus.' He did. His sons who were very aggressive Muslims were very angry but slowly they changed their minds. Last week they too were baptized. Now, Eomer goes down every other weekend to the village to visit the new Church there in his uncle's home. Eomer is a changed man. He no longer thinks about growing a bigger house Church. Now he just thinks about how many Churches his little house Church can see planted in the lost villages of Gondor. There are two so far among his relatives- there will need to be many more.

As Eomer continues to serve his family like this I am confident that many more will come to faith and that many Churches will be established in the villages that up until now have been so hard to reach. Is your door always open? I pray that mine will be. It is not always easy but it is not supposed to be. The message of the Cross must be preached by the way of the Cross or it will have no power. Eomer's words have a lot of power these days- and you should meet his wife! Do my words have power? I pray that with more loving service they will be endued with the power that our Lord intends for them to have. Words that transform, cleanse, and create.

8 comments:

David Rogers said...

Strider,

This is a great story. I think that our evangelism, both in the States and around the world, can be revolutionized when we learn that it is more about opening our hearts, ears, and homes to those in need of the Savior, and not so much about giving a 15-minute canned presentation (not that it is necessarily a bad thing to be able to explain the Gospel in 15 minutes). :)

Alan Knox said...

Strider,

Another excellent story! Thank you for the exhortation to open our homes to other people.

-Alan

BKC said...

"He stayed three months."??!!?

I get antsy if people hang around after coffee is finished. Seriously, this is a great story. A family using their lives to serve others and show them what Jesus is like. Thanks for posting.

Tim Patterson said...

Here in the west the saying goes something like this: "Hosting someone in your home is like keeping fish in the refrigerator, after three days things start to smell."

Thank God Eomer does not follow that line of thinking... or if he does, he endures the smell. We can learn a lot from him.

Strider said...

David, Alan, Brian, Tim- Thank you guys for stopping by. I am always encouraged to keep writing these stories if people of your caliber keep reading them.
I am a firm believer in hospitality as I have said. The positive is that it gives people a real chance to know you well- the danger of course is that it gives people a real chance to know you well. Hmmm.... Serving others with hospitality may reveal more about yourself than you are prepared to hear.

RKF said...

I happened across your blog while searching on our business name - and found a post on one of my favourite Christian topics: hospitality.

My pastor did a 2 part series on hospitality a few years back that I think is excellent listening. However I can't find it on Sermon Audio right now, but he does have another on Rom 12:13 that covers the same topic.

Thanks for the reminder that church size doesn't equate to church impact.

Ryan

Debbie Kaufman said...

Strider: I am not of the high caliber of David Rogers or Alan Knox, Tim Patterson, but this story had me saying, yes that's it. That is what evangelism is. Thank you for posting this inspiring story. Men like Eomer are the ones who will keep fulfilling the Great Commission with God's full power and blessing and keep getting the results. Praise God for men such as Eomer.

Strider said...

Debbie, yes you are.