"We frequently confront these issues in the mission field, and while traveling to sponsoring congregations throughout the United States," Nicky admitted. Our adult Sunday School class welcomed Nicky and Denise Fremont's participation in the morning's roundtable discussion. On temporary leave from their assignment in the Philippines, they had much to offer. "Homes are different, styles vary, but the spirit of the host is what really counts."
"What do you mean?" Deacon Walthrop asked.
Denise whispered to Nicky, then he laughed and nodded. "May we share our barbecued steaks story?" Nicky asked Robert and Ruth.
"Go right ahead," Robert answered as Ruth blushed.
"Well, two years ago when we last visited, we were invited to a certain home for dinner. When we arrived at the set time, no one was there," Nicky began.
"It was raining, and the kids were fussy as we waited, and waited . . . It was cold and I was afraid the baby would get sick," Denise interrupted.
"We didn't know what to think," Nicky continued. "It's not like there are options in a mountain community this size -- no restaurant, grocery store, motel: nothing."
"And we were hungry!" Denise added.
"So what did you do?" our teacher asked.
"Nicky and Denise weren't aware their hostess had called us," Ruth offered. "We were babysitting her children and she was absolutely frantic."
"She said she would be a tad late," Robert added, rolling his eyes. The whole class broke into laughter.
"If it's who I think it is, she will be late to her own funeral!" Frank quipped.
"No, but she WAS late to her grandfather's!" Edna countered.
"Enough!" Deacon Walthrop scolded. "The subject is hospitality, remember? 'Entertaining with generous kindness.'"
As the class quieted, Ruth continued. "She said she'd be late getting her kids, and wouldn't be back in time to feed the Fremonts."
"That's when I arrived home from work," Robert said. "Since no one could contact the Fremonts by phone, I offered to drive over and tell them dinner was canceled."
"Then we realized that wasn't enough," Ruth added. "I was already cooking our family's dinner, so I said to Robert, 'Quick! Get more meat from the freezer, and I'll slap it on the barbecue -- it's only cheap round steak, but it's the best we have. If I double amounts, at least everyone will be fed!'"
"We were so grateful when he came to rescue us," Denise continued. "Robert and Ruth were strangers to us, but we knew they were heaven-sent."
"By the time Dana arrived -- pardon me, I didn't mean to mention any names," Nicky apologized. "But by the time she arrived to pick up her children, dinner was ready."
"So our three families gathered round the table fellowshipping late into the evening," Ruth said.
"And it was the best barbecue I ever ate!" Nicky added.
"Yeah, he still talks about it whenever we grill!" Denise laughed, giving Nicky a friendly nudge.
"The point I want to make is this," he continued. "Unplanned hospitality can be the best: just seeing a need and filling it with whatever you have that's available. No special fuss, no pretense -- just doing what you can at the time."
"I like that," Deacon Walthrop commented. "Can anyone provide Scripture that applies to this?"
Walter was searching studiously through references in his study Bible. "I'm not sure if this is right or not," he said. "But immediately this story made me think of 2 Corinthians 8:12, where it says our gifts are acceptable when we give according to what we have, not being expected to give what we don't have."
"Good choice! Then a person doesn't have an excuse to hold back hospitality until conditions in life become favorable. That verse puts the burden on the receiver, to accept graciously whatever gift is offered from a willing heart," Deacon Walthrop suggested.
"I see," Marsha interjected. "That frees the giver to offer whatever he can. If the person on the receiving end doesn't think it's good enough, that's his problem and not the giver's, right?"
"I think you've got it," the deacon agreed, "which brings up another subject."
Just then the door burst open and Dana rushed in, breathless. "Sorry I'm late," she apologized. "Did I miss anything?" People exchanged looks, smothering their laughter.
"Not really, Dana, if you take this to heart. Remember: when you're serving? As in tennis, be sure you follow through!"
Dana was puzzled. What's tennis got to do with me? she wondered.
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