Opportunities to welcome others and practice hospitality abound, if we will only dream a little. Let’s look at a few:
Adopt Some Students
Gary and Susan are an empty-nest couple who are dear friends of our family. For almost two decades now, we have watched them be “Mom and Pop away from Mom and Pop” for several young people from the local college. The students are welcomed into their home on a regular basis for meals and general fun times. Gary and Susan have turned their home into a home away from home for hundreds of young people over the years. Gary’s quick and corny wit and Susan’s great cooking have made their home a hot spot for college students. I recently looked at Susan’s friends list on Facebook. It is full of young people and past students who are now parents themselves who continue to share their gratefulness for Gary and Susan’s hospitality in a time in their lives when they were far from home.
Adopt a Grandparent
The nature of our culture is one that has caused many families to become spread across states. For many elderly people this means their grown children live far from them. This situation cannot only feed loneliness but also leave the elderly in helpless situations at times. This situation hit home for me personally. My family and I live over 600 miles from my parents, and they began to decline in health a few years ago. They were still able to drive and cook for themselves, but some things were becoming very difficult for them to handle. Pete and Debra Yabarra have lived next door to them for almost twenty years. My mom and dad watched their kids grow up, and there were always a lot of lawn chair visits between them and Pete and Debra. As my folks’ health began to take a slow decline, the Yabarra family began to naturally take up the slack. Their son, Rocky, mowed their lawn, refusing to be paid with anything but my mom’s homebaked pies. Pete took care of all the leaky faucets and general household maintenance and even installed a gate in the backyard fence that separated their yards so that my folks could come over to their house and spend time with them around their pool. Debra kept a caring eye on them overall. With us living so far away, this was an enormous weight off my mind, knowing my folks had someone watching over them.
Adopt a Single-Mom Family
I used to tell my congregation that single moms are the modern-day equivalent to the New Testament widow. The early church was obligated to care for widows because they faced so many difficulties in caring for themselves economically and practically. Most single moms juggle careers, children, and finances with little to no relief in sight. Many a single mom adds higher education to the mix as the only hope for a better future for her and her children. Staci is a single mom who lives a few houses down from Steve and Jessica Mather, a family who decided to open their lives and home to Staci and her kids. Staci is enrolled in night school for nursing, and three afternoons a week Bret and Jill, her elementaryaged children, hop off the bus and go to the Mather home following school. They share dinner, Jessica helps them with their homework, and the kids join the family in whatever activities they have going for the evening. Steve and his son Nathan maintain Staci’s lawn and keep the oil changed in her car. The Mathers have been doing this for almost two years, and Staci and her kids are considered a part of their family. — Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford, Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People, The Shapevine Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 206–208.