Inviting the Uttermost Parts of the Earth Into Your Homeby Neal Eller
I remember the experience as if it was yesterday although it took place in the fall of 2011. I had received an email from Sammy Joo requesting volunteers to invite international students studying at NC State University into our home for a cultural experience and possibly build a relationship with them. Little did my wife and I know what God had in store for us through this act of true biblical hospitality and stewardship.
Having strangers into our home was a threatening concept to us, especially strangers from another country. The Holy Spirit had been working in our lives over the last several years to mold and shape us more into the image of His Son, Jesus, but this new journey and step of faith would require guidance, strength, and dependence upon God or as Henry Blackaby would say, "This became our crisis of belief."
After we said yes, we then had to choose from a list of students who to invite. No direction was given on who or how many to invite. After spending time praying over the list, we decided on inviting two young men and two young women from the country of India into our home. Also, we decided to invite the small group made up of families that met in our home weekly to come alongside of us to serve and love on these students.
"Giving is doing what were made for: loving God and loving our neighbors. Giving boldly affirms Christ's lordship. It is a blessed act that leads to joy." - Randy Alcorn
From that one experience, God has done more in our lives than we could have ever imagined. Close bonding and loving relationships have been built with three of the four students that are still strong today. If I were to write about every experience since that day, it would literally be like reading a short eBook; therefore, I want to highlight a few things we have learned about loving God and loving others (our Indian students):
- God invited us to join Him on mission.
- God knew exactly what we needed at just the right time in our spiritual life to move us toward spiritual maturity.
- God knew exactly who we needed to invite.
- God demonstrates His grace to us through our Indian son and daughters.
- God gave us the opportunity to use His resources for His glory and for the benefit of His Kingdom (home, money, car, time).
- God demonstrated His love to my wife when she was given a card and a gift on Mother's Day from our Indian son.
- Loving others is about learning to cook Indian food and doing it well.
- Loving others is demonstrating to others you sincerely want to learn all that you can about their culture.
- Loving others is attending their cultural experiences and festivals.
- Loving others is taking them to see Casting Crowns, Royal Taylor, and Matthew West.
- Loving others is inviting and introducing them to your extended family at the big Thanksgiving meal.
- Loving others is playing a family board game around the kitchen table and laughing yourself silly.
- Loving others is taking and picking them up at the airport no matter the time.
- Loving others is meeting the boy's parents on Skype and having them call you personally on your cell phone to thank you for watching after their son.
- Loving others is taking them to church so they can meet and see the body of Christ in worship.
- Loving others is sharing on numerous occasions the gospel or as David Platt writes in his book, Follow Me, sewing "gospel threads."
- And, we have discovered that our love for these students have become so deep and profound; we cannot imagine eternity without them!
Now, you may ask, "What in the world does this have to do with stewardship"? Everything! Read what John the apostle had to say in 1 John 3:16-19:
This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. (The Message)
How about you? What stranger does God want to bring into your life so you may steward His resources for His glory, for the benefit of others, and for your good?
To see pictures of the great times we have had over the years with our Indian students, Facebook me as a friend! Also, check out the great website, First Week in the U.S., to see how you can love international students by stewarding God's resources He has provided to you for His Kingdom.