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Hospitality and Our Global Context

by Chris Freet

Hospitality coverThe following is an excerpt from the book A New Look at Hospitality as a Key to Missions      p. 3-4.
A key issue concerning the American church and the role of hospitality involves the role of migration, immigration and refugees. Today, most nations face issues related to globalization. The world is becoming smaller and smaller. A person can be anywhere on the globe via plane in about a day. Technology enables people to communicate across the world with the click of a button. This has greatly impacted the movement of people groups. For example, M. Daniel Carroll R., in his book dealing with immigration in the West from a Christian perspective, observes, “The greater part of Christians now live outside North America and Western Europe. Some characterize this movement of Christianity’s center of gravity as the…‘globalizing’ of the faith’” (Christians at the Border, p. 60). Similarly, Andrew Walls also notes, “By 1980, the balance [of Christianity] had shifted again, southwards; Africa is now the continent most notable for those that profess and call themselves Christians.” (The Missionary Movement in Christian History, p. 6) This shift brings with it contemporary issues which the Western Church will have to work through. Not least of these issues involves the role of hospitality and the American church’s place in welcoming others from around the globe.
Awareness of this southward shift is present and still growing in the West. The landscape has changed but continues to evolve. What role will the West take in this as a result? One point is clear: The American church can either embrace the shift or deny it. If the latter is chosen then the American church could potentially miss out on a great spiritual opportunity—perhaps even spiritual renewal. If “pride-of-place” is maintained by the American church, thus fighting against or ignoring the global shift within Christianity and all the potential benefits and opportunities for growth, then stagnation or even further decline among some segments of American Christianity seems possible. As Ogletree warns, “Ethnocentricity is egoism in cultural mode” (Hospitality to the Stranger, p. 49). Further, Carroll reminds us that a surprising number of immigrants, migrants and refugees are Christians (Christians at the Border, pp. 60–61). This information is potentially vital for the American church which currently finds itself in the midst of figuring out where to land in issues related to immigration. Indeed, many scholars, including Soong-Chan Rah, hold strongly to the conviction that “immigrants and ethnic minorities are saving American Christianity” (The Next Evangelicalism, p. 74). To fail to pay any attention to this reality in America could possibly mean to miss out on the work of God in this nation.”
Have you seen or heard of any local churches welcoming and ministering to diaspora people groups? How has your local church welcomed the stranger or foreigner? How might God want to use diaspora people groups to breathe new life in the Western church?


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  1. Chris, this is a very timely subject, as everyone knows. We have a success story in our little Alabama town. A member of our church, Theresa, a college professor now, was a school principal at the time our town welcomed a big car manufacturing plant from Korea. She went to Korea. When she came back, she was a big part of helping to integrate the Koreans into Luverne. This happened years ago, and she is still teaching Korean students English at our church every Wednesday night. She recently got her doctorate, and her thesis was about English as a second language. Also, our church welcomed a group of Koreans who needed a facility for their church, and they met in our building, until they could have their own building. There are other examples of hospitality shown to the Koreans by many in our town.
    I believe that house churches could be a big answer to offering hospitality to immigrants and refugees. After all, this is the biblical model, and people can be won to Christ this way and also discipled. In Paul’s closing greetings to the believers in Rome, he mentions “the churches of the Gentiles” and “the church that is in their house,” (Rom. 16:4, 5), which indicates to me that all the individuals’ names listed in this chapter were likely members of house churches all over Rome! As Christians are persecuted more and more in these last days, house churches could be the only way for believers to meet and also a way to offer refuge to non-believers who could be won to Christ by this hospitality! This has been the case in China and other countries for decades.
    Thanks again for your thought-provoking and challenging posts. Many people opened up their homes to the victims of Katrina. I pray that God will give me the grace to offer this kind of hospitality to people so greatly in need of it.

  2. Nancy,
    Thank you for sharing these examples. Perhaps one way for hospitality to take root in the Western church will involve sharing these stories until they may, hopefully, become the norm.
    Also, I agree with your statement on the importance of opening our homes to others. Whether it is a house-church or another avenue, the home will, I think, become more and more of a hub for local missions and ministry within the life of the church. I’m excited to see this happen!

    1. Me, too. I have a friend who couldn’t attend church, because she was giving her mother constant care. Several people came to her house to “have church,” and they have been meeting for quite some time now. They have ten members. I think that is ideal.

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