“Open Heart, Open Home”

I’m sure you have heard the idea that we are to be “the hands and feet of Jesus”.  It sounds great, but what does it mean?  Are we to go over to India and follow in the example of Mother Teresa and minister to the poor and dying in that country?  Well, yes, maybe God is calling you to do this, and if so, you should start praying and packing.

But for most of us, even myself at this time, we will not find ourselves leaving our home country to go live in another part of the world to serve the Lord full-time.  So what is it that we are supposed to do that would qualify us as being Jesus’ hands and feet.  Of course we do have the words of Jesus Himself who told us how we can “flesh out” Christianity in practical ways.  He says in Matthew 25:35-40

‘I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’  The righteous will then answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?  When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!’

This is one of Jesus’ parables, and it begins to give us some insight into what good practical Christianity looks like.  It is showing the same kind of mercy and compassion to a fellow human being that God would show, but as is so often the case, God is asking us to do these acts of compassion on His behalf and in His name.

Now someone reading this may be saying that this is still too general of a mandate and would like to see at least one of these ideas fleshed out more specifically.  I have anticipated this possibility, and so I would like to offer a good suggestion, especially to fellow Christians who are living in North America and are living very nice modest lives, if not down right well-to-do lives when compared to most of the rest of the world.

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And here is my thought:  I would venture to say that nearly every Christian who reads this post is currently living within 100 miles of a University or College.  And in nearly every institution of higher education, there would be a certain percentage of foreign students who have come to study in our countries.

So why don’t we become proactive and invite some of them, four people, or two, or even one to join our family for a meal and “Please stay to visit with us longer”, and leave with “What date shall we set for doing this again?”  Time may be short right now, but most Universities and Colleges should be coming up to the Spring Break.  What better time to open your hearts, and open your homes when the international student has no idea what they will do or where they might go during this break.

I leave you now with an excerpt from a good book “Revolution on Our Knees:  30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations” written by good friends of mine, Dave & Kim Butts, who have an international prayer ministry called Harvest Prayer Ministries.  They offer a Scripture passage, and then a real challenge to all us who are Christians.

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“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him” (Psalm 67).

Every year almost 700,000 international students flock to college campuses in the United States. They are far away from home, many for the first time, navigating a strange culture and attempting to take classes in a language different from the one that is most natural to them. Many of these students want to impact their nations in a significant way, but most are not Christians. These students are a huge untapped resource for the cause of Christ, but about 70% of them will never see the inside of a Christian home unless we reach out to them.

The reality of this situation is staggering when we consider that these potential kingdom workers already know the language, customs and layout of their own countries. Through hospitality and acts of love, our families and churches can become the hands and feet of Christ to them, bringing many into the Kingdom of Light! Then, by training them to reach their own nations for Jesus Christ, these young men and women can become incredible tools in the hands of a mighty God.

Gracious Lord, please give me a heart for the nations, for I long to see all the ends of the earth fear Your Name! Help me to see the big picture of how reaching out to one young student can change the world for Jesus! Let me be one of many in my church to seek to build relationships with young men and women from all over the world so that they might have an opportunity to see the living Christ in our homes! Teach me to stretch beyond what is comfortable to learn from and minister to these young students, so that they will see Jesus in me and know that I care about them.

–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by Dave and Kim Butts.  Click on the title for more information on this resource.

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