Welcoming the Stranger

Each year brings an opportunity to refocus, to increase our understanding of a foundational facet of care to those in our host communities experiencing pregnancy, parenting and/or sexuality related concerns and needs.  This year, we’re asking the question:  What does it mean to ‘welcome the stranger’?   Radical Hospitality invites us with this: “We welcome strangers in the little ways we open ourselves up to them.”

Hospitality, from it’s earliest origins, was intended to protect people from the dangers of traveling alone.  In our context at Choices, we seek to present ourselves as an oasis of welcome and embrace that comes in the form of listening, providing helpful feedback, serving, loving, and caring for those in need of hope. So many of those who come to us are living in relational poverty – no one to share what it means to be pregnant, be a parent, to live in a loving family, to be friend, or to find emotional healing after abortion.  Shelter and protection include a safe harbor for one’s heart; a knowing that another cares. Think Matthew 25:35.

“When we accept a human being we are fostering the kind of hospitality that will change everything.” (Radical Hospitality)   We desire to provide a refuge – a holy place of sanctuary from the life that is being robbed by an increasingly complex society.  We seek to connect with the image of God that is present in each person – to provide acceptance and embrace –  to have an open stance toward building relationship and hopeful eventual transformation built upon a foundation of trust, respect and dignity.

At the end of each year, we total the receipts submitted by our volunteer staff for ways they have cared for their clients, i.e., friends. Pizza lunches, groceries, chocolate, baby showers, small token gifts, marriage license, meeting a special need are just a few examples.  2008 receipts totaled an astounding $2,735…and that’s only those who actually put their receipts in the envelope! What a beautiful representation of loving others in our midst by those who are already sharing their lives by making themselves available.

We want to see abortion, child abuse, domestic violence, depression/loneliness (among other grievous expressions indicating a loss of hope)  that so often lead to loss of life, decrease.  We want people to experience spiritual transformation that moves them closer to understanding God’s heart for them.  Therefore, we seek to embody this truth: “Christian believers were to regard hospitality to strangers as a fundamental expression of the gospel.”  (Making Room)

Having a posture of welcome for others is having a posture of welcome for Jesus…and we continuously seek new ways of being for this to be our foundational reality.  In closing, ponder this:   “Wherever, whenever, however the kingdom manifests itself, it is welcome.”  (Krister Stendahl, New Testament theologian)

Quotes above are from two of our current reads, Making Room, by Christine D. Pohl and Radical Hospitality, by Father Daniel Homan & Lonni Pratt.  We invite you to pick up a copy – we’d love to include you in our ongoing conversation.  We also invite you to prayerfully, and conversationally consider how you might find new ways of being to bring blessing to families in our communities.  We would love to hear from you!

If you’d like to assist us in helping to infuse our local communities with a message of hope, help and healing, you may do so here. E-Giving truly makes it easy for all of us.  May you find ways to bring blessing in your little corner of the world for the sake of those God loves!


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