Around March of this year we recognized that Esi really wanted her other son, Peprah, to have the same opportunity that Yaw did in getting to receive an American education. She had mentioned a few times on the phone that she wanted to start working on getting Peprah’s student visa. About this time I had been feeling the strain of caring for a house-full, and I had wearily mentioned to Jake that I needed a break. “After Yaw graduates, let’s just take a year to regroup and catch our breath before we take on any more host students.”
With that, we started looking around for a host family that would be able to take Peprah in. The months went by, and the summer went by, and there we were a few weeks ago with Yaw’s family here at our house. We hadn’t pursued Peprah’s student visa any further because we hadn’t been able to find a host family for him yet. So Peprah came to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa, and we said that we would start pursuing his student visa once a host family was identified.
On the first Sunday that Yaw’s family was here we all went to church. And our pastor told us a story. Our church has a reach-out ministry to an Indian reservation in Rosebud, South Dakota. One of the leaders of the ministry has started placing some of the Rosebud kids with families here in the Ames area as a sort of exchange program. Well, a handful of Rosebud kids had just been identified that would be good matches to be exchange students. And an email went out to a large percentage of our church family (our church family is around 2500 people) to see if anyone could take these kids in. And, the ministry leader got some responses back. And most of them sounded like this:
…..not really a convenient time.
…..with this economy I don’t really have any extra money right now.
……we don’t really have any extra space in our house.
……we just don’t know how a person of that environment would mix with our family.
……we’ll pray about it.
Out of the very large amount of recipients to this email, only 5 families in our church said yes. YES, we will be a host family.
And you know what, my guess is that the above thoughts DID cross the minds of these 5 families. But they said YES anyways. Why? My guess is that they’ve read God’s word, and understand that when we choose to follow Him, there is going to be sacrifice. Jesus paid the ULTIMATE sacrifice for us…..death…….so that we can have a relationship with God and spend eternity in heaven. So, why then, as Christians do we say we want to follow Jesus but then not expect to encounter any sacrifice of our own? It makes no sense. It’s easy to say we’ll pray about it. It’s easy to hope someone else will do it. It’s easy to just give a little extra money towards a cause and feel like we’ve done something good. It’s harder to actually do it.
And on this day in church, my very own selfish heart was convicted by the outstanding example of these 5 families who said yes. They didn’t do it because they had some extra money in their bank account. They didn’t do it because it was a super convenient time to add a teenager into their life. And they didn’t do it because they have a huge home with tons of extra space. I am sure that the circumstances in their lives were most likely not perfect. But they did it because they have faith that if they step out and obey God, He will provide for them and lead them every step of the way. Their decision will certainly not come without sacrifice. Another reason why the take-up-your-cross verse I keep posting about applies yet again. Why? Because Jesus pre-empts that verse with this: DENY SELF (Luke 9:23).
You can follow one of the families that took in one of these students by clicking here.
Now, back to my selfish heart. The reasons I didn’t want to take in another host student at this time were all selfish. In fact, when I went through all my own excuses, I couldn’t think of one that wasn’t selfish. Someday I will get a break. And most likely, it will NOT come this side of heaven. For now God tells me the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few (Matthew 10:37). I know what work He has given to our family. Through the Holy Spirit God has made His word CLEAR. I read it, and I understand it. But will I do it? God has given me the attribute of being hospitable. I feel absolutely comfortable opening up my home to people. But it’s not easy. Some things about it are really hard. Will I let those things crowd out my talent? Will I squelch my talent when the opportunities come? Will I go and bury my talent like the servant in The Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) because I want a break from my work? Or will I remember who I am following? The One who gave HIS life, shed HIS blood, and died an UNDESERVED death for me.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.