Posted 2/13/2018 at 8:00am. Story by Cadance Tyler
In my previous blog, I told you about my trip to El Salvador through a class at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. I shared the story of one church’s realization of the importance of shepherding children and youth in their community. Today, I would like to tell you another story from El Salvador.
As soon as we stepped off the plane in El Salvador, we were treated with genuine hospitality from our gracious hosts. Wherever we went we received hugs, smiles, and plates of food. Our first host, Comunidad Cristiana Bautista, offered their homes for us to stay in each night.
They were inquisitive about church in Virginia, and they were eager to answer our questions about where God is moving in their community and country. They fed us more than was humanly possible to eat, but we did not just walk away with full bellies. Our hearts were full of love and friendship.
Our second hosts in the city of San Salvador have a nonprofit, Mision Vida y Paz, and work in schools with volunteers to teach values and empower the students to transform their community. Their passion for partnering with churches and community organizations to create change and to share God’s love through action is contagious.
They took time each day to travel with us to meet with members of the Lutheran church and the government to get a better grasp on the issue of migration and the church’s response. They ate with us, shared their own stories, and took an interest in our own journeys. They could have made a list of places to go and sent us on our way, but they sacrificed their work week and time with family to make sure we felt welcome.
Each hug, question, and cup of coffee while in El Salvador reminded me of the church in Acts. We read in Acts 2:45-47: “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (NIV).
We see in the Bible that generosity, fellowship, and joy were an important marker of what it meant to BE the church. They made sure that people’s physical and spiritual needs were being met.
My time in El Salvador reminded me of the importance of hospitality. Our churches should be places of generosity, fellowship, and joy! Not only should we act that way toward those within our faith community, but we should also make sure that our hospitality is reaching those who visit and those who may never step inside of our church walls.
When people come to our Sunday school class, are they met with a smile and a cup of coffee? Are they ignored or glanced at with suspicious eyes? Do people have to know church lingo to understand what’s going on in Bible study or worship? Do visitors leave having connected with at least two people?
Hospitality knows no borders or differences in language. As followers of Jesus, we have a hope and love that’s worth sharing! This week, I challenge you to take an inventory of your life. Are you generous and loving with your neighbors? Do you open up your home or table with others? Are you a church member who welcomes visitors with open arms? If not, what is it that you can do to ensure that your church is bursting with generosity, fellowship, and joy?