For the past few years it has been our privilege to host Thanksgiving at our home for the friends of Jesus. We invite those who go to Pizza Night along with the members of our little church to come as they are for a warm meal and friendship. This year was no different. A small number decided to come. And we were glad for the company.
There was plenty of thankfulness. We were thankful to be of service. Thankful to be learning how to give freely and love more. Thankful to have earned the trust of those who haven’t had the best experiences with people. They were thankful, too. Thankful that Thanksgiving wouldn’t be spent on the streets alone. Thankful to be away from the temptations that such loneliness brings. Thankful to be loved.
Every year we get invited to have lunch at my Aunty’s home. We can bring anyone. All are welcomed. The plan was to invite our friends to this event. But the more we thought about it, the more concerned we were that they would not feel the comfortable in that environment. We wouldn’t want them to feel bad about their outward appearances or their current circumstances. The thought of their discomfort began to wear at me. I mean, there are times when I’ve felt inadequate and uncomfortable. And they’re my family!
We decided that the best course of action would be to forgo lunch with my family and open our home up once again. Here, in our home, they could come as they are. Just as our church has always been a place where anyone can come as they are –drunk, high, barely dressed, angry– all are welcome. And so we prepared to have another small gathering for Christmas at our home.
In the end, our guests cancelled. One decided to meet with a group of friends he’s made. He felt called to minister to them over Christmas. Another felt like he needed to sit with a man who has been drinking himself into a stupor. He felt like Jesus wanted him to be a listening ear.
Our guests, friends of Jesus, sometimes overlooked and discarded as the unwanted lot of Waikiki had become God’s chosen vessels. When I think about these men, one a former alcoholic, the other a convicted felon, I am amazed at what God has done in their lives. I see men who have gone from being selfish takers to those who are now reaching out to others with love. Their greatest testimony being their own transformed lives.
This past year, RK has been teaching us all about the importance of being the church. Wherever we eat together, pray, fellowship and share the Word of God, we are having church. We are the church. Our friends, our would-be guests, are the church. So, in a way, we planted two churches over Christmas.