What is Hospitality? As Christians, it is our sacred duty – loving strangers and friends alike.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us it is welcoming one another into our homes and lives, feeding the hungry, providing drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
So, how well does FPC practice hospitality?
On a recent trip to my local Biscuitville drive-thru for breakfast (don’t tell my dad), I was greeted at the window with a joyful, “Ms. Kathy, it’s you from First Presbyterian Church downtown! Do you remember me? It’s Carnequia. Your church was so wonderful to my family. How is Ms. Jan and Ms. Sharon and everyone at the church?”
I absolutely remembered Carnequia, her husband Willie, and their adorable one-year old daughter Nazlee from Family Promise last December. They are a hard family to forget. I remember sitting and talking with them about Nazlee’s doctor’s visit that day and the shots she received. Willie explained that he didn’t go because he couldn’t stand to see his baby girl cry. They were normal parents doing normal parenting things, only they didn’t have a home and were living and eating at a church. I’m pleased to report that they have since transitioned to their own apartment and are thriving. And it’s all because of you and Family Promise.
On the very same visit, another woman scrambled to the take out window and said, “Ms. Kathy, it’s Nicole, do you remember me too?” Nicole graduated from JobStart a couple of classes back and is now released from prison. She reported that she was also doing great. She asked about the Wednesday kitchen crew and the church. We were having such a wonderful time chatting and catching up, that the store manager even joined the conversation.
That interaction made my day. And not because Carnequia and Nicole remembered me, but, rather because they remembered you and the church. What this says to me, is that the memories of their time at First Presbyterian were positive and maybe even life changing. Working alongside the Wednesday kitchen crew and attending the mid-week service are meaningful to the JobStart ladies. The delicious meals that Sunday School classes provide during our Family Promise hosting weeks and the genuine conversations that take place, create a hospitable atmosphere. I witness you all loving strangers like friends you have known for years. Taking time to talk, ask questions, share experiences and a meal. It seems like such a small act, but believe me, the love you share so generously sticks with families long after they leave our campus.
God Bless First Presbyterian Church and all of you wonderful members who joyfully practice Christian Hospitality and discipleship so faithfully.
by Kathy Johnson