Since I have been coordinating the At Home hosting scheme it has always been clear how the placements create a two-way relationship, where both host and guest learn something from the other. We had therefore been planning a meeting that offered our hosts the time and space to look over their experiences in a more prayerful and reflective way. We were able to have the time to go deeper into the experience of hosting a destitute refugee, and share some of the experiences and lessons learnt.
“I sense God in the experience, and I think we all do”
An At Home host
In order to get people familiar with each other we began with some ice-breakers, provoking some interesting discussions about what we have in common, what is completely different about us, and what are the things we could not live without. These questions touched upon the sense that through all our differences, our unique personalities and distinctive walks of life, there is still much more that brings us together rather than separates us.
We were then guided through an imaginative reflection by Sarah Broscombe, who facilitated the meeting, of the bible passage of the widow of Zaraphath. The passage describes Elijah being shown hospitality by a widow who barely had enough to provide for herself and her son. It showed an example of offering hospitality even when it would have significant personal costs because there was trust in God to provide enough for all.
“It keeps us connected to more than our own small world”
An At Home Host
The hosts then spoke about what they thought were important acts for prospective hosts – including giving a key and making the guest feel like one of the family, making available the things they need to lead an independent life for a while, and making time to talk to their guest. The hosts also reflected on what had changed over time, commenting that they had become more relaxed despite initial apprehensiveness. They had become more accepting of differences and were recognising the common humanity.
The hosts also considered the fruits of hosting, and shared that it was lovely to show hospitality to someone in need of a welcome, and how rewarding it was to be able to help a desperate person – if only for three months.
“their experience of life is beyond our experience”
An At Home host
It was very touching to hear how much the hosts had gained from having some of our refugee friends as guests. What one host commented particularly struck me – that they gain more than they give. I have often found personally that when I thought I was giving to someone, the experience rewarded me far more than I ever anticipated – and that I gained more than I ever thought I would.
We are very grateful for our generous hosts, and it is a privilege to be able to see the change that hosting can make for the guest. If you are inspired to offer a sanctuary to a destitute refugee, and to become part of our hosting community, please do get in contact with myself, on 020 7488 7313 or email email@example.com.