When Hugh and Judy Erskine inherited 280 acres of scenic country property in
Hedgesville, West Virginia, 10 years ago, they sensed that God was going to
make use of the land; they just didnt know how. They didnt immediately envision
themselves in a ministry of hospitality. Yet in 1993, they opened the doors of
The Farmhouse on Tomahawk Run Bed and Breakfast to their first guests. For the
Erskines, hospitality is more than a jobits a way of reaching out to others and
From the time of Jesus first miracle, when he changed the water into wine at
the wedding in Cana, hospitality has played a significant role in introducing
our Christian faith to others. Extending hospitality to others shows we care
about them and enjoy them, as God loves and enjoys each one of us. Extending
hospitality is often one of the first steps in building a relationship that we
hope will bear the fruit of a decision for Christ.
Hugh and Judy believe God leads people to their door for a reason, and they
try to be sensitive to what that reason might be. We never know what stage
theyre going to be in when were speaking to our guests, so we have to be
prepared for each stage, says Hugh.
Is your home a place of blessing and ministry? God can use you,
your home and possessions in creative ways to share His gift of salvation.
Author Quin Sherrer provides a creative guide to sharing Gods love through
The Erskines feel that, while life experience equips them to relate to their
guests, prayer is also crucial. They pray for their guests by name before they
arrive. We pray that whatever we do will be an extension of Gods love, Judy
The beauty of the countryside, the comforts of the inn, and the serene
spirit that permeates the property all contribute to drawing people out. Hugh
and Judy get to know lots of non-Christians, and theyve shared the gospel with
a number of them. Some guests, such as one named Janice, become special
friends, returning again and again to the inn. Hugh and Judy spend time with
Janice every time she visits, sharing their faith and what God means to them.
When Janice admitted that she found it difficult to find the time and focus to
read the scriptures, the Erskines gave her a copy of Whats in the
Bible by R.C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth (Thomas Nelson, 2000).
But not everyone can bring friends and acquaintances to the countryside to
share the gospel. Thats why Jane Jarrell, an author and speaker who is writing
a book about making the home a haven, believes its important for all of us to
create a comfortable, welcoming home.
Everyone needs an oasis, she says, a place to totally relax and feel totally
accepted. Conversely, says Jane, If youre living in chaos, then youre not going
to want to have people over, because its such a huge hassle to get it all
When your home is comfortable and your family is living in an atmosphere of
peace, others will be drawn to it. Dining, whether its for your immediate
family or for a large get-together, encourages fellowship and thus builds
relationships, Jane explains. Once a relationship is established, its much
easier to bring up the gospel.
In Romans 12:13, we are commanded to practice hospitality. What are some
practical ways an on mission Christian can do this?
Make your home a haven of comfort and respite.Jane
Jarrell suggests that you make your home welcoming by starting with the front
door, adding something that is attractive and welcoming, a wreath or other door
decoration and a cheerful doormat. When Jane has guests over for dinner, she
leans a chalkboard against the entryway and writes a greeting or even the
dinner menu on it. The Erskines do the same with their B &B, writing
Welcome on a chalkboard hanging outside the front entrance, followed by the
first names of all the guests expected that night.
Jane also believes your house should smell good, a task which is easily
accomplished with potpourri or scented candles. And a clean, uncluttered house
is always soothing, but dont let perfectionism be a barrier to opening up your
home to others.
Choose home accents that reflect your faith.At our
house, the doorknocker is engraved with my husbands favorite scripture, As
for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). We want
everyone who enters our home to know what we believe.
At the Farmhouse on Tomahawk Run, a plaque hangs in the gathering room that
reads On September 29, 1996, the Farmhouse on Tomahawk Run was dedicated to the
glory of God, Who willed it into being and sustains it by His grace. Psalm 127:
Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain to build it. A list of
dedication witnesses and prayer supporters is included. The wall decoration has
prompted many visitors to ask questions about the Erskines faith.
When entertaining non-believing guests, dont forego your normal
religious observances.Saying grace over a meal when nonbelievers
are present shows your guests whats important to you and what your beliefs are,
but dont be timid about sharing even more of your life. If you have weekend
visitors, dont forego your normal church service. Instead, let them know what
your schedule is and invite them to join you.
Hugh and Judy Erskine leave a courteous note about check out procedures for
their guests: We attend church on Sunday morning and would appreciate guests
settling their bill before 10:00 a.m. They also let guests know they are
welcome to attend church with them, and many have taken them up on their
Provide opportunities for believers and nonbelievers to encounter
each other in a relaxed atmosphere.Hugh Erskine says, A lot of
what we do is just allow things to happen. He talks about the time an
African-American pastor friend stayed with them at the same time a white couple
was visiting. The couple seemed stiff and uncomfortable, and Hugh and Judy were
concerned that the cultural differences between their guests would create
Surprisingly, the pastor, Bob, and the other man, Frank, formed a bond
quickly because of similar backgrounds. But when Frank learned that Bob was a
preacher, he said quickly, I want you to know Im a heathen.
In a loving manner, Pastor Bob began asking Frank gentle, non-accusatory
questions. The discussion between the two men lasted for hours. Hugh and Judy
watchedlike a tennis match, recalls Judyfor several hours but finally yielded
to fatigue and went to bed shortly before midnight.
The next morning at checkout time, Bob and Frank hugged each other. When
Frank invited Pastor Bob to visit them sometime at his home, Bob responded, You
tell me when youre going to be baptized, and Ill be there.
Eileen Coale is a writer living in
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