“Wake Up” Your Hospitality This Christmas
This article was originally published by the Center for Great Commission Studies, the missions hub of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Written by Melanie Ratcliffe, SCBaptist Director of Relational Evangelism.
My husband and I hosted a neighborhood Christmas party in our home one Christmas, and our Bangladeshi neighbor came.
As we talked, she shared that my home was the first American home she had ever been invited to. Her family had lived in the States for over 15 years.
American hospitality is not dead; it’s just asleep.
Compared to hospitality in the 20th Century, we are a little behind the curve in using our spaces to build relationships. Our lack of hospitality might be due to fear or even apathy; however, we can’t negate the fact that hospitality is needed for us to reach those far from God.
There are more than 45 million immigrants living in the US today. If we take time to look around our communities and neighborhoods, we will see the faces of the nations in our backyard.
Here are three ways you can “wake up” your hospitality to share the Gospel with the nations this Christmas:
Look for practical ways to help internationals in your community.
One of the most immediate ways to demonstrate hospitality is by offering practical help to newcomers in your community. Immigrants often face numerous challenges when adapting to a new country, such as finding housing, employment, and necessities. Reach out to local organizations, schools, or community centers to identify individuals or families in need. One teacher in my church shared that her school hired five international teachers this school year. These teachers came late without contacts, no place to live, and no transportation. Our church made welcome baskets with supplies and gift cards to show we cared. Your church or community group can create welcome baskets filled with essential supplies and gift cards. Not only does this show that you care about their well-being, but it also lays a strong foundation for building relationships and gospel conversations. This act of kindness can reflect God’s love and grace in action.
“For 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 needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Invite them to your home for a meal.
Many internationals do not celebrate American holidays but would love to learn about them. If your family is open to it, invite them to a holiday meal and share about the culture and meaning of the holiday. Share stories of God’s faithfulness to you through the year, and use Scripture to share how God has transformed your life and how He can transform theirs.
“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’”
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
1 Peter 4:9
Continue the conversation.
After the holiday has passed, invite the person to your house or to coffee to continue the conversation. Being intentional with your time and resources is key and allows you to share the challenging and celebratory times. When you meet with them, ask questions leading to a gospel conversation. Remember that this is a two-way exchange, and be open to learning about their traditions and experiences as well.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
1 Peter 3:15
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Here are a few questions you could ask to start a Gospel conversation:
- What religion did you practice in your former country, if any? Ask them to explain their main beliefs and practices so you can better understand their perspective.
- Have you noticed Christian practices in American culture?
- I am a Christian. What questions do you have about my faith?
- What differences do you recognize between the Christian faith and your religion?
These are some examples to lead to the Gospel, but it may take a few meetings before getting there. While you wait, pray and prepare to share how God transformed your life. Building trust and genuine relationships takes time, but the impact can be profound.
By reaching out to our international neighbors, we extend God’s love and open the door for meaningful conversations that can lead to spiritual growth and transformation. So, this Christmas, let’s “wake up” our hospitality and continue to be a source of love, grace, and the Gospel for those from the nations in our backyard.