When we came home from our honeymoon a few weeks ago, Joe and I prayed that God would make our home a light and a haven for us and for those who enter through its doors. So when our church asked for people to host missionaries coming for a conference this month, we eagerly signed up. In fact, we offered both of our guest rooms. Big mistake. BIG mistake. (By the way, sometime soon I’ll tell you all about our newly formed “Christmas Room,” designed specifically for guests!)
Though I grew up in a home where visiting missionaries and pastors were a common sight around the house, and though Joe and his first wife often hosted overnight guests, as we headed for the final day of the conference, I, with tears streaming down my cheeks as we pulled out of our driveway, said to Joe, “We’re never hosting missionaries again.” He readily agreed.
So because I care about you, my sweet faith-friends, I feel it only fair to warn you and to tell you why you should never welcome missionaries into your home:
They broaden your burden for lost souls.
My “mission field” may not be in England or in Africa, but the dedication of our guests to fulfill God’s command to share the glorious gospel of Christ (the “Great Commission,” Matthew 28:19–20) was a rebuke to me to have that same driving desire to see my community, my city, my state, my nation hear the good news of salvation. Their fervor, zeal, determination, and willingness to forego earthly comforts and pleasures pricked my heart’s natural tendency to put things, schedules, and personal needs before the eternal souls of those around me. My heart was stirred. My affections were refocused. My burden was renewed.
They lengthen your already-long prayer list.
Oh how I wish we could give full financial support to each missionary we come into contact with. It would be awesome to write a ginormous check and rapidly get them to the region to which God has burdened them to go. But in most cases, He will allow us to give toward their work through the gift of our prayers. As we shared a final breakfast with one of the couples who stayed in our home, it was both humbling and enlightening to hear them share of one young man they had discipled and taught as he had begun his new faith in Christ. Eventually this young man had left their country and had gone to another region where he is seeing people come to Christ and is now training them to share the gospel with others as well! As our guests spoke of this, we mentioned how exciting it must be for them to realize that their prayers for and training of this young man play a role in his current work. They quickly added, “And we think it’s amazing that the people who pray for us also play an important role in these new believers’ lives!” Wow. Just wow. My prayer list grew a little longer this week. But my greatest prayer is that the God who hears and answers these prayers will draw others to Himself through the work of the missionaries I came to know and love while they were in our home. (Suggested reading: Philippians 1:3–11.)
They take a piece of your heart with them when they leave.
The tears I shed and the words I facetiously spoke as we left our driveway on Wednesday were not from frustration or anger; they were tears of love, joy, and gratitude. As the younger of the two couples drove away, I felt that I was sending my “children” off to face an uncertain but blessed future, and my heart was touched. The same love-motivated tears flowed when the older of the two couples left the following morning. Through our evening times of fellowship around chocolate chip cookies and milk and our breakfasts of coffee cake and scrambled eggs, we shared not only food and laughter; we shared a bond in Christ that wove its way into our hearts. And for that, Joe and I are thankful.
So unless you want to increase your burden for the lost, lengthen your prayer list, and give away a piece of your heart to those who are vocationally serving God in the location where He has placed them, don’t do it. Don’t have missionaries into your home for meals, as overnight guests, or for even a brief time of fellowship. But if you want to be challenged, encouraged, and blessed, open your home—to neighbors, to fellow believers from your church family, to your church staff (after all, it is Pastor/Ministry Appreciation Month), and to vocational missionaries. You’ll be glad you did!
Want to read more Petals from the Basket or give these devotional thoughts as a gift?