As I’ve mentioned earlier, our finances aren’t in the best of shape. Extremely sporadic paychecks make it difficult to budget—how do you know how much you can spend on something like food if you have no idea when the next check is coming? Then there’s the matter of tithing. You can’t tithe on zero.
Last January, I wrote about how to give to God when we’re broke. I mentioned giving away things we already own, and giving our time. There’s a third way we’re currently giving to God that I overlooked when I wrote that article, even though it’s one we’ve been doing all along: we can practice hospitality.
Desperation Leadership Academy (DLA) is our church’s year-long, full time program for young adults aged 18 to 25. As our website proclaims to prospective students, “It is one year of spiritual training that will put you in an environment to accelerate your love for Jesus, His church, and a world that desperately needs Him.”
Since these students come from all over the country (and some years, even from overseas), they need a place to live here in Colorado. To make the program more affordable, the students are housed by members of the congregation, called “home sponsors,” who sign up to provide room and board for one or two kids from September through July.
Yes, you guessed it. Pete and I are home sponsors. For the past ten months we have had the privilege of providing a home for two young women, one from California and one from Indiana. As a result, they can focus on the prayer, college-level theology classes, and hands-on ministry training that comprise DLA. Our commitment is to provide a place to live (they share our downstairs bedroom and bathroom), meals (do they even eat?), and encouragement (at least we pray for them!).
Actually, we’ve done this sort of thing before. We’ve housed several other students for up to a year at a time and a program leader for two years. While it’s never a simple matter to bring other people into your home for any length of time, we’ve always been both stretched and blessed by having them here.
Probably the main downside of being home sponsors is that the program keeps our students too busy. We hardly ever see them! They get up, grab a quick toast or cereal breakfast (if there’s time), and run out the door. We’re usually already in bed by the time they get back at the end of the day. I only know they’ve been here by the scattered crumbs around the toaster, the half-done laundry in the washing machine, and the flattened weeds where their cars were parked overnight. We’ve tried to arrange a once-weekly dinner, but it gets rearranged or cancelled so often, it’s more like once a month. We had hoped to build a more meaningful relationship with our students, but the reality is they just don’t have the time or energy.
On the other hand, we know we are contributing to the discipleship of two amazing followers of Jesus. That’s certainly a goal worth signing up for!
Your church may not have an intensive discipleship program, but there are other reasons to open your home. Perhaps your church has missionaries home on furlough who need a place to land. Visiting pastors and other speakers from out of town usually jump at the chance to stay in a home rather than an impersonal hotel room.
As the headquarters of so many organizations, I realize that Colorado Springs has an unusually high number of ministry workers coming for training, conferences, and meetings, but there are ministries all over the nation. San Jose, California, used to be the home of Partners International (now in Spokane, Washington). When we lived there, we asked to be added to their list of local guest homes. As a result, we got to meet and spend quality time with their partner missionaries and pastors from all over the world. Our children would sit spellbound as they heard (and still remember!) stories about life in India, Ghana, Indonesia, and other faraway places.
Providing hospitality is yet another way we can contribute to the kingdom of God, no matter how plentiful or limited our resources. And, as with any other way in which we give to the Lord, we are the ones who end up blessed.