I love to read. A lot. My Dad used to read to us all the time when we were little and I’m pretty sure he still has The Three Billy Goats Gruff memorized. When we got older my Mom would read aloud to us things like Chronicles of Narnia and King Arthur. And I would fly through books on my own. So when I make this next statement, I don’t say it lightly:
The following book may be the best one I have ever read.
I knew it would be good. I read Rosaria’s first book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, earlier this year and loved that one as well. But I didn’t know I was going to find a book that so captured what biblical hospitality is and explained it. I didn’t expect to be so convicted. And I didn’t know there was a book that held the longings of how I want to live my life.
Growing up, my family had an open door policy. I wasn’t even aware of it. There were times when we officially “hosted” but most of our gatherings were laid back and people-focused. We didn’t have a big table but who cares? That’s what the living room floor, the porch, and the yard are for! I specifically remember being a teen and we found this really odd looking key and spent all day trying to figure out what it went to. Finally my Dad got off work and we asked him, “Oh, I think that’s the key to the door!” No joke, people. We lived in town but our door was never locked except at night. We would go to church and have friends say, “Hey I forgot to tell you! I stopped at your house the other day to change my clothes for work. You guys weren’t home but I knew you wouldn’t mind.” And we didn’t. I thought everyone lived that way.
Until I moved to Ohio. My family didn’t grow up with such a thing as protected “family time.” I didn’t quite understand the concept. I didn’t understand why you couldn’t have people over to your house on Sundays after church because that is reserved for family time. What a weird thing. Can’t you have family time with other people? That’s my thinking. I didn’t understand the stress people feel when having people over. They tell me there isn’t enough room. Look at all this room! I knew that a welcoming heart makes the room, not the space around you.
And yet this book stretched even my idea of hospitality. It is Rosaria’s whole life. She views it as a mission field which was almost new to me. Anyone and everyone is welcome in her home at any time. She plans and goes out of her way to invite strangers (the very definition of hospitality.) She and her husband fostered and adopted teens, befriended neighbors that no one else would, had almost daily gatherings at their house, invited college students to live with their family while at school, and did so with the gospel of Christ in mind.
I’ve been told before that I have a crazy view of hospitality but after reading this book, I don’t think my view is CRAZY ENOUGH! What a beautiful picture of the gospel to seek out the lost people in this world and bring them into your family. And you know what, it’s going to be inconvenient, you’re going to get hurt, and it will take time and energy.
But it’s also such a blessing. Psalm 68:6 says that God sets the lonely in families. What a privilege to be a part of that promise. To be a family to someone else.
Read the book, people.