Homes Away From Home

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’(Matthew 25:34-36, 40)

As most of you know, I have been working in Allendale County since the middle of January. In my interview (on a Wednesday), I was told that they would make a decision by Friday, and the job would start that Monday. I knew it would be quick start date, but I was caught completely off-guard by how fast this was moving. “I need . . . some . . . time,” I stammered. “Like, to find a place to live.”

We knew that it would take some time to get our family moved down, so I needed a temporary place to stay on Monday through Thursday nights. I was commuting almost every weekend (besides a short but much-needed mini-vacation and when a college mission trip was going on).

God has provided some awesome places and people to meet our need.

The Hunting Lodge

My awesome room at the Lodge.

The first week-and-a-half, I stayed with Jim & Terri Boone (and their two kids) at the Red Bluff Lodge. Also, our family has stayed there a couple of times, since they have multiple rooms, and this has been the slower part of hunting season (they get really busy in the fall, when deer and alligator hunting overlaps).

I got connected with them through a mutual friend. Terri is on the board of the after school program where I work. They were more than happy to open their home to serve us. I was initially hesitant about whether I would go back, because I wasn’t outright invited. But then she explained that she just expected me to come back whenever I needed to. “Just call and let us know,” she said. “Or, don’t call. Just show up.”

The irony is that I was staying at a hunting lodge, but I have never shot a gun (besides BB and paint) in my life. And there I was hanging with an 8-year-old boy who has killed over a dozen animals. This is a fun and active family, and I have enjoyed the times I get to talk with Jim, who shares a passion to help the youth in this area.

My Bodyguard

Mike Smalls is anything but small. He is former military, and a current detention center officer. He has a soft spirit, and a hard body. I keep saying that I’m going to challenge him to arm wrestling, knowing full well he would rip my arm off at the shoulder. When I introduce him to friends, I call him “my bodyguard.”

I got connected with Mike through Joe Mole, who pastors the church where Mike is a faithful member. Most of my time here, I have stayed with him. He is single, and had an extra room, and another mutual friend had an extra bed that was brought over to Mike’s.

Unfortunately, due to our near opposite work schedules, we haven’t had a lot of time to hang out. But on multiple occasions he has encouraged me with words that we both know came as messages from God, at times when I needed it most.

And he took to lead to make sure that I felt welcomed. Here is how showed brotherly love to me, by helping me not feel awkward:

  • He told me to NOT ask him if I could come back each week. I was to come and go as I needed, for as long as necessary.
  • After the first month, I left him a thank you note and a little money. The next time I saw him, he told me, “Thanks for the money, but don’t do that again.”
  • Every Monday, there was a towel and washcloth folded neatly – military style – on my bed, which also had fresh linens.

Isn’t this how the body of Christ is supposed to work? We see a model of this in Acts 2:44-45. “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Be sure to read the following post about the next steps for us, plus some final thoughts about what hospitality is.

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9 responses to “Homes Away From Home”

  1. Anonymous says :

    An absolutely delightful, uplifting post. Thank you. God is using you in Allendale, but He is also using you in your writing for whomever comes across this blog. Do NOT ever consider stopping. God bless you and your family.

  2. Scott Beckler says :

    Praying for Allendale and the few of you who are doing WORK for the kingdom there. Thinking I'd like to meet Mike- he sounds awesome.

    Also, I had a the same experience when I lived w/ the Merritts (wow 3 whole summers ago now). They made me so welcomed that I felt (and still feel) like part of their family, which IS how the Body of Christ should be! What a blessing these people have been and an example of the very real and moving ministry of Hospitality.

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