The Art of Welcoming: A 3-part Series on the Vision and Practice of Hospitality

February 10, 2020

Part One: Talking with Sarah Krause

Sarah’s life is a welcome sign. A young math teacher fresh out of college, she has a lot on her plate, but never too much to ignore hospitality. Interviewing her was a huge treat, and we came away freshly inspired to live like Jesus. You’ll be encouraged no matter your age, but if you’re a younger woman, read on and glean some great ideas for how to change your world in an unlikely way.

Sarah, an official definition of hospitality is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” What else does the word mean to you?
It means meeting people wherever they are, whenever they need it. It doesn’t matter who the person is or what they need, you just reach in and meet it if you possibly can. Your home is the Lord’s to be used for him. 

Hospitality is not such a hot topic these days. Any thoughts on why?
Yeah, it’s kind of a lost art right now. It’s easier to meet somewhere outside your home. You can look like you have it all together, wear a great outfit, and put it all on social media. But your home is exactly who you are. There is no hiding or faking. People see you in your real life, and there is something powerful in that. 

What inspires you?
Well, first, anything Jesus exemplified is something we should emulate. I still have a booklet I was given in Sunday school as a child. It was about a man who dreamed that Jesus was coming to dinner, so he made a big meal. But a poor woman knocked, and he ended up giving the meal to her. It always affected me because it’s the story of Matthew 25: What you do for the least of these you do to Jesus. You’re serving him the whole time you think you’re serving others. 

Even though I started inviting people over because I wanted to play games and hang out, I began to see the wonderful effect it had on people. I  loved the way my friendships grew when people were in my house rather than sitting in Chick-fil-A. There were personal things shared and relationships built that just wouldn’t happen in a restaurant.  

How do you personally pursue hospitality?
I have learned to love having lots of people in my house, and it doesn’t matter who they are. My roommates and I have always had an open-door policy. People can come over anytime. If they need a meal, we probably have something they can scrounge up. Through this, we have built solid relationships with people we didn’t anticipate getting all that close to! We often just look for people struggling in friendship, knowing that if we can get them into a welcoming environment, it will be easier for them to open up. I have one friend who was having a hard time in a transition in his life, and after one game night, we’ve been good friends. We tell people to bring along whoever they want. 

Are you just one of those people who wants to be around people all the time? 
I teach in a high school classroom all day, so I often get peopled out. Of course, there is a balance. Taking some time for myself is great, but it doesn’t mean I should take every evening for myself! Honestly, being with people is often more encouraging than a night alone anyway. Great blessing comes through loving people, even when we’re tired. 

Is hospitality an act of obedience?
It can be. Sometimes you don’t want to invite people in. I’ve experienced moments of sadness this year, and I don’t always want to show that to others. But people have come over when I’m not at my best, and it has ended up being an encouragement to me. I’ve learned that we don’t just wait to be hospitable until everything is okay and easy. God meets us.  

A lot of young women live in dorms or small apartments and have a tight budget. Does this all still apply to them?
My apartment is part of a house that is over 100 years old, and it collects dust by the hour! We don’t have AC in more than one room, so people come over and sweat to death. But they don’t seem to mind! When I was in college, I really didn’t have money. I often lived on Ramen noodles, but I could offer Ramon noodles to whoever came in. I tried to have hot chocolate on hand too. That kind of sharing makes people feel comfortable. It shows that we want to give them what we have, and we’re not embarrassed to show them our real life. I hope that makes them feel the same way. They don’t have to hide who they are. People are also happy to bring a snack to share. 

It’s hitting me now how honest hospitality is. It’s hard to hide where you are and what’s going on in your life when you open your door to people. 

Many of us want to live this way, but there is always that nagging fear that maybe no one will want to come. Any advice?
Be prepared to be rejected, and be prepared for the Lord to meet you in that rejection. Sometimes I send a text to 20 people and one person comes, but in the end, I get to know that one person so much better, and half the time when that happens, my soul didn’t need 20 people in my house, it needed that one person. Trust the Lord in it.

Any last practical tips for those of us taking our first steps?
The next time you plan to meet at a restaurant or dining hall, invite people to your place. Just try it!  Also, mix up the people in your life. When I invited my field hockey team over with my church friends, everyone felt uncomfortable for about five minutes, and then we all had a ton of fun and they loved it. Hospitality brings gospel opportunities. My last thought is that planning and spontaneity are both important. Plan to invite people into your life, while also being spontaneous with opportunities that arise. God will use you!

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