What have I learnt from trying to get ELIM UK to host ELIM GLOBAL?
Acts 28:2 “The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.”
Next week Elim UK will be hosting 100 Elim leaders from 32 nations over 2 weeks. My office has looked like a military war room as we have tried to plot flights, pick-ups, train and bus times and tickets, accommodation and schedules. Above all we have been working hard in contacting churches to host these leaders and for many at short notice as the leaders get news of their visa success.
I have often marvelled at the cultural hospitality found in so many places of the world. I have been shown such kindness, honour and love from people who do not have much at all. But what about my own culture, does my own people have the same kindness? I have learnt:
- To host people in your home is an honour.
- Hospitality is a gift and when it is seen it is an astonishingly beautiful act.
- Our homes belong to God.
The soldiers and prisoners land on Malta, the island name means refuge and the islanders did not disappoint.
- They showed unusual, extraordinary (Amplified) kindness. In the process of finding UK hosts my office has marvelled at the people who have gone the extra mile. We only asked for one thing but then they have said ‘but we will also do this, we will transport from here to there, is there anything else you need?’ When that happened I would be amazed. Why? Because it was extraordinary, it wasn’t usual, it was unusual, it was surprising hospitality.
- They welcomed everyone. It would have been understandable for the islanders to welcome the centurion, Julius, or his soldiers, but they welcomed everyone which included the prisoners too. It is easy being hospitable to nice people or people of good standing. This is why it was incredible hosting. In the organising of this event I knew certain UK hosts would have certain global leaders because they are already friends. But to see people say we will gladly take care of people who don’t speak our language and are not the same as us culturally has been a blessing.
- They did what was needed. Everyone was rain-soaked and it was still raining, they were all cold and the islanders knew what they should do, they built a fire to keep everyone warm. “You should have heard what he said?” That’s what I said as I came off the phone from one UK Pastor agreeing to host.“What do you need? We will do whatever is necessary!” Life is easy with such people! When people are cold you need a fire built. When people are coming you don’t need cheer-leaders at the airport you need people with cars at the airport. When people are coming on to our island you don’t need a map of good guest houses you need houses that will be open for guests. When people arrive you don’t need promises for the future, “Not this time but count us in next time”, you need help now.
That’s what I have learnt!