The other day, I was at a funeral. I saw a lady in the congregation whom I had not seen for a while. Seeing her took me back many years down memory lane. It must have been in 1983 (some 28 years ago), when I was a student at the University of Zambia. This lady and her husband lived within 30 minutes walk from the university. A Christian friend of mine had not done well the previous year and had been asked to repeat the subjects he failed, and so he could not be accommodated on campus. Not having any relatives close enough to the university to host him for this year, he came to me to ask for help.
|The entrance to the University of Zambia|
I was the chairman of the University Christian Fellowship (UCF) and so I quickly looked at the various options. As I thought and prayed, this couple came to my mind and so I decided to approach them to ask if they could host this brother for one year, while he repeated the courses. I walked over to their home with him by my side. As soon as we finished the greetings, I got to the subject and asked them in his presence if they could host my friend.
This was youthful zeal on my part. To begin with they were not even members of my church. This lady’s husband used to preach at the University Christian Fellowship fairly often and hence was quite well known to me. His favourite sermon, which he often felt inspired to preach, was on Hophni and Phinehas. His sermons were often more rebuking than edifying. At the height of his preaching, in a harsh voice, he would call you chickens or pigs, using the vernacular language—“muli nkoko!” and “muli nkumba!”—to emphasise your lack of guts or your spiritual compromise. Being young people, we loved that kind of radical preaching.
Thankfully, after a slight pause they agreed and kept this brother for the one year that he was doing his part time studies at university. He later cleared these courses and went on to complete his university studies. I am sure my friend will remain eternally grateful for the role that this Christian couple played in his life at such a time as this. As I saw this lady in the congregation at the funeral, I wondered how I would have reacted if a young adult brought his friend to my home and asked my wife and me to do what I had asked of them. Agony!
They say a little confession is good for the soul. I think I would have asked that the young man’s parents should be the ones to come and ask for this favour, hoping that they would not dare to do so since they could only ask people whom they knew. Then my mind would have gone through all the possible challenges that this was going to present to my family, hoping that one of them would be strong enough for me to turn down the request if his parents so much as dared to come and ask. In other words, I would have put every conceivable obstacle in front of them instead of readily accepting the challenge the way this couple did.
|"A little confession is good for the soul"--this represents me!|
Or maybe it would have been one of those days when I would have had a most powerful quiet time with the Lord. Perhaps passages of Scripture would fill my mind like, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12) and “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Then, and perhaps only then, would I have responded the way this couple did. We need grace in order to be truly hospitable, don’t we?