Room preparers. The Old and New Testament is full of stories of people who practiced hospitality. In 2 Kings 4:9-10 there is a story of a well-to-do woman of Shunem who offered the prophet Elisha hospitality. “She said to her husband, I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”
Likewise in Romans 12:13 Paul instructs believers “to pursue or practice hospitality.” He urged the believers to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed them.” (Romans 15:7)
Hospitality was a way of life fundamental to Christian identity. Its mysteries and riches are revealed most fully when it is practiced. I believe that it is a gift from God to be counted among those who cultivate ‘room preparedness’.
In Biblical times untold amounts of ministry had been done because people (no matter their status in life) availed themselves to others and practiced hospitality. Room preparers offered their space without fan fare or expecting praise simply because it was the natural thing to do. The Gospel spread, churches grew in strength and number – all because ‘room preparers’ expectantly waited for a guest in need.
This ancient practice is being replicated today in order to advance Kingdom efforts for churches, conferences, non-profit business, the arts, etc.
Today, Joy Along The Journey, a Christian Hospitality Network, is one example of contemporary practitioners of hospitality. Providing hospitality has its challenges, but Joy Along The Journey was borne out of a ministry in a local church. Its mission is to safely and securely connect hospitable Christians with Christians who travel – usually for ministry purposes.
As Christine Pohl states in her book Making Room, “In God’s remarkable economy as we make room for hospitality, more room becomes available to us for life, hope and grace.” The most potent setting for hospitality, she adds, is in the overlap of private and public space; hospitality flourishes at the intersection of the personal, intimate characteristics of the home and the transforming expectations of the church. Practioners view hospitality as a sacred practice and find God is especially present in guest/host relationships. There is a mutual blessing in hospitality.
Everyday Christians who recover this lost art will find untold joy in welcoming and being welcomed by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and it all simply starts with a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp.