The Power Of Welcome

This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt.  The prompt today is “hospitality.”

hands-2847508_640

As the children piled out of the buses or climbed out of their parents’ cars, the anxiety was evident on many of their faces.  Several had come by themselves, not knowing anyone, and spending a week away from home in an unfamiliar place is a big deal when you’re only nine or ten years old.

Our main aim was to make them feel welcome – to assure them that this was a place where they belonged, where they were valued, where there were people who cared for them, where they would be well looked after.

It was amazing to watch as, throughout our week at camp, a group of strangers became a community.  New friendships were made, and there was lots of laughter.  Of course there were squabbles and upsets from time to time, but generally there was an acceptance of one another that was beautiful to witness.

I was so proud of the team and the way they led by example in creating this kind of atmosphere…

…because what the children didn’t fully understand was that the team were almost all strangers to one another too.  This was no established team that had worked together before.  Many of them had met for the first time that day, and many of them were every bit as apprehensive as the campers, yet you’d never have known it by the way they pulled together and encouraged one another.

The common factor was Jesus.  Although they didn’t know one another, they knew him, and that was enough.  United by their love for him, they were able to share that love with others.

One Bible dictionary defines hospitality as “love of strangers.”  Surely that’s a kind of love that is only possible when we understand God’s love for us – that his is a kingdom where the outsiders are included, where everyone is invited, and where everyone has value.

And when we grasp that and demonstrate that love to others, the impact is powerful.

Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I hope and pray that the children will remember some of what was said during that week at camp, that the truths they heard about Jesus will continue to sink in and bring transformation, but I know that love in action is important too, and maybe the two can work together.

When we know we’re loved and accepted by people, it brings an openness to what those people have to say and an interest to understand what motivates that kindness and generosity.

And, as Jesus said, “When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”  (Matthew 25:40 NLT)

16 thoughts on “The Power Of Welcome

  1. Good morning, Lesley. A beautiful post. Your description of camp mirrors our pastor’s words. He spends one week in the summer as counselor for teens. Still praying about what to offer on today’s word prompt. Have a wonder-full day. In Christ, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Made me think…

    How did they see one another,
    the team that Jesus built?
    Did Matthew’s place arouse their wonder:
    “Why HIM, with all his guilt?”
    What of the sons of Zebedee,
    who were among the first?
    Did they inspire secret envy,
    being very quietly cursed?
    And what of Doubting Thomas,
    a bit behind the curve?
    Did they see him just like us,
    short on faith and nerve?
    One church from twelve apostles;
    one faith from their four Gospels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s interesting to think about how the 12 disciples got along with one another. I love how Jesus picked such a diverse group of people and brought them together, and that he does the same today!

      Like

  3. How beautiful – the common factor is Jesus! Yes. I’m so grateful for that bond wherever we may find ourselves. Kids often don’t realize that adults can have those some fears of being alone or out of their comfort zones. But Jesus brings us all back around to home and family as one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your camp experience so reminds me of weeks spent on missions trips. One in particular. All strangers but brought together through God’s leading and all wanting to be used by Him. It is a beautiful experience!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lesley, what a beautiful picture you paint of strangers coming together. I remember those days as a child when I went somewhere where I knew no one, and no one knew me. I still have those feelings at 73 in a new place, new community, new group. You’ve described it so well, from beginning to end! The glorious end when we realize we were put here by the same God and are loved by the same Christ! Thanks for a beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our church is reading through and discussing Isaiah, and we just had a conversation yesterday about God’s invitation to strangers–meaningful for me because the name Barbara means “stranger.” Love that fact that even when we don’t know each other, we know Him (in the case of the coworkers) or we’re reflecting Him.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.