open homesWe are a family of Spirit filled disciples together on God’s mission.  Missions is everyone, everywhere, all the time.  It is both in the nations as well as in our neighborhoods and sometimes the nations are all around us.  For nations that are in our neighborhoods open homes create unique opportunities.  Here is a testimony from Derek and Janet Miller from Kirksville MO about a recent opportunity to reach the nations through open homes.

In years past we use to enjoy providing hospitality and entertaining guests in our home. BeingDerek part of a local apostolic church gave us a wide scope of opportunity to allow people to come into our home as they traveled to visit the church in Kirksville, Missouri. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. This terrible circumstance caused our family to have to make all kinds of changes to the way we lived at home. The surgeries, chemo-treatments, radiation and doctor visits made it almost impossible to be pro-active in service to the church. It seemed like forever before we could be contributors to the Kingdom of God.

Well, that was a couple of years ago. Today, Janet is back on her feet through much healing, prayer, and care from her doctors. We are blessed to have her still with us. One thing that never left her heart from this experience was the desire to reach out to people. When the fall semester at Truman State University began, we had several students attend our services regularly. Much to our surprise, approximately eight of them were from the Asian countries. When Janet saw them her eyes lit up with joy and began to speak with me about the desire to have them over. It wasn’t long before she came up with a plan to have them over for lunch.

About a month ago she informed me of the Sunday when she wanted to have them over. I agreed and we made it happen. That weekend, we had our kids help go to the grocery store, prepare food, and clean the house. All four children complained about going to all this trouble for having students for lunch. When service was over, we gave the international students a ride to our house to enjoy a meal. Upon arriving, we all sat down in the living room and became acquainted with one another while we were waiting for some of the food to finish cooking. As we waited, Janet asked the students one by one to tell us their name, where they were from, and what their church was like back home. As they began to speak, relational bridges began to be built as laughter filled our homes. Our children became very attentive to the conversations and began to ask questions along with a few jokes here and there. God was filling our home with His presence and love as I was reminded of the commandments Jesus instructed the disciples to “love your neighbor as your self….”

The food was finally ready and we all came together to pray and have the meal. Laughter and smiles beamed from our children and new found friends as we ate and drank. No one complained that there wasn’t enough table space or chairs to sit at because the closeness of the floor was more than sufficient. We were like sardines packed in a can, cramped and bumping into one another, for there was eighteen of us altogether in our small house. We had invited another family from the church to join us that day to help make them feel at home. Everyone was being warmed and filled as we broke out the homemade ice cream and cake for dessert. It truly was amazing to see God’s eternal purposes at work even in something as simple as a meal.

As our time came to a close that afternoon, we all knew each other by name and had a sense of God connection with each other. We genuinely cared for one another just like you would for your own family. God miraculously expanded our family that day in just a few short hours. It is incredible that we have a university in our backyard that brings people together from all over the globe. Represented in our home that day was the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Finland, and Japan. Truly, truly amazing what God had done. I gave the students a ride back to the campus where they had another function to attend, and we all separated with love in our hearts for one another. Upon arriving back home, I asked my children what they thought of the experience, my youngest son said, “Dad, that was a lot of fun! We need to do this again!” A comment like that coming from him suggests that God had done kingdom work even in my kids. It was just the day before when they grumbled and complained, but now they see the fruit of relationships from an eternal perspective. Just a few days ago we had the students back over for another gathering to celebrate my birthday. Everyone enjoyed the time together and my son said the same thing, “Dad, that was fun!” I think the practice of hospitality for God’s kingdom is going to remain in our home.