Note: Below is an interview with Emily Foreman, our featured speaker at our 2017 Fall Inspire Luncheon.
How would you define hospitality?
The Greek word for hospitality is philoxenos, which literally means “fond of guests” or “lover of foreigners.” Hospitality is the act of opening one’s home or life to lovingly welcome someone, be it family, friends, or strangers. To put it more broadly, I like to think of it as compelling people to enter my realm of joy and satisfaction in God through Jesus Christ.
What are some practical ways you’ve used hospitality to reach out to women?
I love to eat, and I love to drink tea and coffee. I’m convinced the Lord has given us this need to eat and drink for the sole purpose of fellowship. The primary way I use hospitality is inviting women into my home, or sometimes I visit them. Sharing food or drink, whether it’s a four-course meal, mac n’ cheese, pumpkin spice lattes, or tea and crumpets, it is a natural way to transition from social to sacramental in conversation. My most meaningful and deeply spiritual conversations have happened over tea.
How has hospitality differed or remained the same for you in different cultures?
The thing that remains the same across cultures and religions is the joy of sharing meals with others. The difference, of course, would be customs and values of presentation. One example is that in many cultures meals are served on the floor around a common platter. And in some it is important not to clean one’s plate, as this would make the host ashamed that they didn’t provide enough for their guests. How we eat, what we eat, and when differ from culture to culture; however, conversation and the enjoyment of fellowship that hospitality provides is universal.
What tips would you give someone who is visiting or new to a foreign culture?
Always be willing to receive hospitality with gratitude, no matter what is being served. Listen and watch for ways to honor the host and the family. Be a learner. Assure the host that you are a learner, and that it is an honor to learn about their culture and customs. In doing this, you earn trust and respect, and you’ll find yourself not only welcomed into the home, but also in to their lives. Open homes and open lives produces open hearts, which is the seedbed for the gospel.
What are some of your favorite stories from the Bible that have allowed you to introduce the gospel to women of different cultures/faiths?
My favorite stories are the parables of Jesus: The persistent widow, the lost sheep, the lost coin, etc. And I love sharing about Jesus’ ministry to women. The woman at the well, the adulterous woman, the woman with the issue of blood, to name a few. All of these counter-cultural stories provide wonderful opportunity to present the grace of God through Jesus, something most other religions know nothing of yet long for.
If you could tell believers one thing about sharing the gospel, what would it be?
The gospel must be conveyed in a natural and genuine way. We must follow Jesus’ example of meeting people where they are with love, and not only telling them, but showing them through welcoming them into our lives that the Truth we offer is Truth for every soul and every culture.