Dcn. Francis Capitanio
By Janet McBrien
In my family of origin, we had very few visitors and virtually no guests. My parents did not believe in sleepovers or hanging out. We had no close extended family. We played with neighborhood kids but not at our house. So, as a young mother with a family to raise, working full time as a teacher and part time in the laboratory, hospitality was not a word that I had the time or inclination to consider. In fact I jealously guarded what little free time I did have and excused this as the protective actions of an introvert.
Until God began to reveal His will and it seemed like a good idea to pay attention.
The revelation first began while I was teaching at PCA (Portsmouth Christian Academy).
It was morning practice for faculty to gather for devotions and Romans was a favorite, often used to equip us in practical ways for the landmines in dealing with high school student issues. Romans 12:13-20 provided wisdom when conflicts arose, but of these verses it was “practice hospitality” that struck me.
I began to open my classroom door during lunch and prep periods and the students came. In droves. It was more difficult than I had imagined. They wanted to engage, and I was called to be friendly, generous with my time, and to do this without grumbling. Ugh.
I had to practice for years.
Fast forward to facilitating the Marriage Course. There was a childless couple in the video series that heard the call of hospitality on their lives. I watched the videos a dozen times. I don’t remember any of the other couples. I began thinking; Our children were away in college. We could practice hospitality! I thought some more: Maybe I should confer with my husband! Maybe he would talk me out of it! After all, his family of origin was basically isolationists! But God was working on him as well – he agreed – we could practice hospitality!
People began to stay at our house. Not family. Sometimes friends. Then Strangers!!! Then one of the strangers married one of our friends. Okay, this was pretty cool.
Then Jesus revealed more. “Share the Gospel,” He said. “Show them I originated hospitality, anyone can come to Me,” He said.
Whoa! Okay, but I needed a little earthly support for this one. So Bruce and I began to invite one non-Christian couple for dinner, along with a couple who were friends and believers.
Just the thought of this endeavor earlier in my life would have made me run and hide. What about cleaning the house? What to cook? What if the conversation lagged? What about…? Questions like that still come to mind, but they’re not as important-feeling anymore because I’ve started trusting the process and prizing what happens.
As we’ve done it several times now, the conversation has been rich. People have wanted to return. They’ve asked us, and our friends, to pray for them. It has been fun! Yup.
And God isn’t finished yet. We are still a work in progress. We host home group every Tuesday night during the academic year and try to remain as open as possible to opportunities to practice hospitality. We invite people over sometimes–get this–without planning!
I am not sure what the next step will be, but, for me, hospitality has been transformed by God from a burdensome and scary unknown to a way of life that has been a blessing beyond measure.