Making Space

OCTOBER 2017

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by Abbie Thiebaut Abbie is the leader of the 6-Month Caribbean IMMERSION team that started their journey through three Caribbean countries in May 2017.

“We cannot change the world by a new plan, project, or idea. We cannot even change other people by our convictions, stories, advice, and proposals, but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations, and preoccupations, and listen with attention and care to the voices speaking in their own center.”
– Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

I’ve been deeply affected by the concept of hospitality on this trip. Four very special families have invited me into their homes and made me feel like a part of the family and along the way, I think I’ve seen a different glimpse of Jesus from each of them.

While I have been the recipient of a very literal sort of hospitality, I’ve begun to understand it as a broader concept. Hospitality is less about a physical space that you have to offer and more about your attitude towards your fellow man.

I’ve been beautifully shown the power of hospitality by these four families. When we invite strangers into our company, to cast off their strangeness, and live as friends for a little while, it creates opportunities to fundamentally change our hearts. 

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When we clear out our distrust, fears, and pride, we see Humanity with fresh eyes, we see past brokenness, and we see the full glory of what Christ created it to be.

The past five months I’ve been living as a guest in the hearts and the homes of many people. I’ve been received with open doors and thoughtful ears and in return, a space has been created for me to invite people into my own space in a refreshing way. I’ve had the opportunity to live in the quiet trust created with my friends and family in the Caribbean, to clear out my pride and my fears and receive my fellow man for the simple purpose of receiving them, and I believe that’s the biggest tool I have to offer the world.

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There are many different forms of brokenness inhibiting us from intimately knowing our creator and the joy He gets from our simple existence, but a big one is fear of the world and hopelessness.

We take our hurts and brokenness, wrap them in shame and hide from our fellow man, afraid to come out or reach our full potential. Simply receiving another person and offering a quiet space to sort out their brokenness is perhaps the greatest tool we have for evangelism, but we often look past it because it can’t be captured in four steps and mass distributed to hurting people. Hospitality requires putting your whole self in the game.

Nouwen writes, “But listening is an art that must be developed, not a technique that can be applied at a monkey-wrench to nuts and bolts. It takes the full and real presence of people to each other. It is indeed one of the highest forms of hospitality.”

It means engaging with your surroundings, listening with your ears and your heart and inviting Christ to speak into the conversation. It means humbling yourself enough not to offer your input and having enough faith that the Holy Spirit is working in the situation. It’s having the discipline to stay present and offer the rooms of your heart as holy ground for healing to take place.

Hospitality means recognizing your own brokenness and praying that Christ can bridge the gap. It’s praying for mercy and inviting others to encounter Christ in your own brokenness as well.

While I can’t change the world with my projects, my willpower, or my money, I can invite the world into my heart, where maybe they just might find Jesus for themselves.

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