Last week Dave got a call from an Nigerian InterVarsity student in North Dakota looking for a place to stay for her brother in Grand Rapids. “He’s taking a test at GVSU and needs somewhere to stay for 2 weeks” she explained 4 days before his planned arrival. Dave scrambled trying to find someone for Ushce (oo-che) to stay with that actually have a guest bedroom instead of our couch. No go. Friday arrived, his sister called again & when we told her that we hadn’t found anywhere for him to stay, she assuredly replied “I’m sure something will work out.”
By Sunday when his bus arrived from his college in upstate NY and he called Dave to pick him up we still had found no where for him to stay. We were stressed about having him stay on our couch while we were potty training Reuben & Dave is gearing up for the school year. However, between Friday and Sunday I had thought a lot about hospitality, and more accurately I felt like Jesus was reminding me about what hospitality is when you profess to follow his teachings. It is often easy for me to believe what most of American culture affirms is true hospitality- a gorgeous home, the right plates to serve food from and a private guest room and bathroom for your visitor to enjoy. Over the years of hosting students in our home Jesus has slowly changed my perspective on hospitality, and this latest opportunity to host Usche, a Nigerian international student who has only been in the U.S. for a year, started to feel like more of an opportunity than an inconvenience.
As I thought about what it would be like for Usche to stay on our couch for two weeks the words of Jesus’ parable about what it means to live out your faith when people who are looking for help: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” I started to realize that hosting Usche wasn’t going to be an inconvenience at all- it was a privilege to have an opportunity to let what I believe translate into hospitality for one of God’s people.
Though we did find a place for him to stay with a private room for the next few days we were blessed by his presence in our home. As he shared about life back in Nigeria we found out that he had been part of the Nigerian Christian Union, a sister organization of InterVarsity’s in the U.S. Amazing how you can find connections with people all over the world! Reuben loved having him here as well, praying at dinner “God bless Mr. Usche!” and “I like Mr. Usche, he’s a boy! He likes to play trains with me!”
It made me think about the kind of home we want Reuben to grow up in- where hospitality is more about opening up your life with who you are what you do have than worrying about not being able to provide the “right” things or being inconvenienced by an unexpected guest. It’s times like this that remind me that following Jesus is about the daily choices we make about caring for others and I hope our home will continue to be a place where people can enjoy a good meal, some conversation and a giant inflatable air mattress to rest their tired bodies at night.