Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Psalm 139:17

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 07/26/10

This picture was taken in Poipet, Cambodia (on the border of Thailand) when a teammate and I went out to chat with people and take some photos late one afternoon in a slum area of the city. Lots of children came around, as they often do, and loved our cameras and the fact that we were able to communicate with them.

I had never met this little girl before, but her quiet and sweet nature made for a photo that captured her personality perfectly. Her little red bracelet (ties with Buddhism) reminds me of how we have a Father who knows us intimately-- when we are young and old-- and when we have not yet even heard His name! Thank you, Jesus.

photographer: Gretchen Zens

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Monday, July 19, 2010

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hospitality for Introverts

A continuation of Carol B. Ghattas article: "Accessing God Through Hospitality," July/August '10 onlineMagazine.

I am an introvert who lives with an extrovert. People are part of our life, and I have had to adjust or die! Each country we lived in had its uniqueness:
1. We lived in an apartment on the 4th floor. Sometimes we just did not answer the door! Use that peep hole; it's there for a reason.
2. We had a house that was a typical American ranch layout with lots of windows. If a person didn't find you at the front door, they would walk around the house until they saw you through a window--even the bedroom ones! We could never hide.
3. In another country we had more privacy, but people felt more at home with us there and came over a lot, so our place was very busy.
4. In our last country of service, life was somewhat slower and visitors usually came with an invitation or warning. I cooked the least in this country.
5. In the USA, even I am longing for visitors!!

So, how did I adjust in this people-friendly environment? God has taught me a lot about stepping out of my comfort zone while at the same time offering opportunities of quietness and renewal. Perhaps He will use some of the following to help those of you like myself to see your potential even in hospitality.

1. I allowed my husband to visit alone with male only visitors. This gave me time alone too. Of course, this was after I served coffee and cake. As a woman, I was not expected to stay in the room.
2. I gave myself the opportunity to go in and out of the room during a visit. Many times this was to check on the children or food, but it allowed me a breather from conversation and people.
3. I stopped worrying about time.
4. I allowed myself to have a ministry of interruptions and to look for God in them.
5. I did not feel obligated to have someone come in, if I did not have to. There are some people that came too often and for no intended purpose. Many times I just talked to them at the gate or door and did not offer to let them in.
6. I gradually extended my limits--it comes with time an practice.
7. I made time for down time. Make sure your extrovert husband understands this need. This hit especially hard after children.

If you are a single introvert, it is important to find an extroverted ministry partner to help you get out of your comfort zone. When I served as a single on the mission field, one of the ways I did hospitality best was to have planned events. This works well but does not always allow you to practice hospitality with the stranger. Having an extroverted roommate will open up your world and allow you to connect with the non-scheduled guest. Be prepared for challenges, however, and then refer to the above list for helps!

God has chosen people to share with people the Good News of Jesus Christ. While I would prefer handing someone a book, I need to stretch my wings and allow the stranger into my life for the sake of the Gospel. God can use you, Introvert! Take heart!

What's NEW this week @ WOTH:

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

To Cook or Not to Cook! That is the Question.

A continuation of Carol B. Ghattas article: "Accessing God Through Hospitality," July/August '10 onlineMagazine.

When we got married, I joked about how my cooking ministry began. I can cook, but have always relied on recipes to guide me, and I would much rather be sitting behind a computer writing. So, there has always been a kind of struggle in me about hosting. Thankfully, I have a husband who does not put much importance in food. Together we have developed some guidelines about how we will host others.

I have had every scenario happen in my life overseas in relation to cooking:

1. I cooked a big meal -- the guests didn't eat! They had eaten before they came.

2. I cooked a big buffet meal for seminary grads -- they walked around the table evaluating whether or not to eat. They heard American food was terrible. Finally, after one was tempted by how the others liked the food, he tried it. He ended up sitting at the table and ate three plates full.

3. I've cooked a meal and the guest could not swallow it! It didn't matter what I cooked; she couldn't eat it!

4. I've provided any kind of food and they will eat it!

5. Without cooking, they come and open the frig themselves.

When it comes to food, these are my guidelines:

1. Occasionally I have to fix a meal to entertain an important guest (i.e. the landlord). These are purely social occasions, and we don't put much value in them. Keep them to a minimum.

2. If our purpose is to share the gospel or have some real quality time with someone, we serve only coffee cake/cookies. A big meal can get in the way and limit the time we have to talk. We also use this in the reverse. If we want to go to visit someone, we make sure they do not fix a meal, but only have cake and coffee. (It doesn't always work, but we try).

3. When the believers were meeting in our home, I did not cook for them unless it was necessary. We did not want them to get into the habit of someone cooking for them. We served only cookies and coffee. We also did not want them to think they had to cook if they hosted church in their home.

4. We take time to share with people that food is not the important thing in the visit, but the conversation and time together. This helps to put them at ease about our custom.

5. If I know that people are very picky about food (like the Lebanese), then I never cook for them. We take them to a restaurant or order food. Why kill yourself, if they are not going to be happy?

Food can bring people together, but it can also distract them from quality conversation (remember Martha). As you adjust to your host culture, work on developing a "third" way to blend your ways and theirs to make Jesus evident in your culinary offerings.

[next week's Hospitality topic: Hospitality for Introverts.]

Author bio: Carol Ghattas has served with her husband, Raouf, for 20 years in ministry to Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa. They have just recently returned to the USA, where they will continue to train others in how to share with Muslims both here and abroad. They have co-authored a book entitled, A Christian Guide to the Qur'an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism (Kregel, 2009). Carol has also authored three novels under the pen name of Um Daoud. Two Sides of a Coin: An Egyptian Story has just been released by Xulon Press, and gives an inside look at the complicated society of Egypt. She has been guest host for the WOTH Writer’s Blog (Jan.19-Feb.16).


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