11After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island—it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. 12We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. 13From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged.ACTS 28:11-15 (NIV)
Those who believe and those who don’t and our destinies hang on either end. But then the world has changed, yet the Word of God has not, against many foundations. There was once a time when church buildings and prayer sanctuaries were left open as safe havens for people to walk in and out with liberty to worship, seek help or shelter. The appearance of a pastor at any spot was something to behold and commanded respect. The gathering of believers provided warmth, assurance and solidarity. Yes, there was such a time!
In 1974, my late father shepherded an urban parish within proximity of a bus park and railway station in Nakuru, Kenya. For that reason, we often received “visitors” (stranded passengers) and many times had to give up our beddings and other comforts to accommodate them. One remarkable thing about my parents was I never heard them murmur, complain or turn away anyone. They also hosted many people and there was as much provision as there were people. However, on one occassion they welcomed a trio who made away with property late in the night and that marked a new phase in our lives. But those were 70s and dynamics have greatly changed. We are at strange period in the history of the world where prayer sanctuaries have to be “protected” and “guarded,” if not for fear of terrorist attacks, it is to keep away thieves. We have also witnessed during political skirmishes people being turned away from sheltering in church compounds, irrespective of their membership. Plus, because of our increasingly corrupt nature, deception and unfamiliar sophistication, the households of faith are now forced to adjust their support systems and mechanisms accordingly to correspond to emerging dynamics. That said, we also have irresponsible brethren who lack discipline in that where they find open doors, they thoroughly abuse hospitality by taking undue advantage of the host.
The world may have changed, but the Word of God with regards to compassion (love and hospitality) hasn’t. Today we watch on news as “pastors” beg government to support them with funds because they cannot feed themselves and their children. What is the weak link? What happened to divine providence if the Word is true? The body of believers is supposed/expected to generate warmth and encouragement in difficult or highly volatile times that exist, in the love of Christ. It ought to administer strength and lift up the weak and fallen in perilous times with dexterity – only if we are willing to be obedient to the Lord. Obedience as we know, is better than sacrifice.
Originally posted by Dann Matthews W’Obukosia