Often times we all fall into the thought process that there isn’t many ways for us to serve when we are busy homemakers, wives and mothers. Our first thought is that extending hospitality requires us to host a dinner party or to go help out with this or that church ministry. Cultivating a hospitable heart does not have to be difficult or complicated, nor does it need to take me far from home, nor does it need to separate me from my family. It simply takes seeing eyes and open ears to observe the needs around you. It takes thoughtful prayer in evaluating who and what might be your own family mission field. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Adopt a nursing home or elderly person in your neighborhood
There are many lonesome elderly people in our time who have been shipped off to the care of some nursing home or facility. They long for friendship, and especially enjoy the presence of children. Consider adopting a nursing home and visit it regularly as a family. Pray for them and love on them. Often times the best way to love on the elderly is being willing to listen to them and hear their story. Do you have elderly folks in your neighborhood? Is there someone in your street, elderly or not, that would appreciate a visit or needs help with shopping? Look for ways to serve them through lawn care, reading to them, etc. The elderly are some of the easiest people to reach out to because they are not intimidating, easy going, and the majority love children.
Sponsor a child
Sponsoring a child through a ministry such as Compassion International, is a simple and practical way you can reach out to a needy child around the world without even leaving your home. It is simple way to show your children that we can care for children in their distress which is very near to the heart of God. Through writing letters, seeing a picture, and praying for the child, your family can labor on behalf of others in a tangible way.
Pray for the world
Prayer is a powerful weapon. A gift of free access to the presence of God. One way that we have cultivated this with our children is adopting a prayer focus for each week. Since we are learning our letters, we think of countries, friends, and neighbors that names begin with that letter. Each day or evening we seek to pray for those names. Utilizing tools such as Windows on the World (for children) and Operation World help to provide insight and specific prayer requests for people around the world. We chose a country that begins with the letter we are studying and read the select chapter. My next goal is to post a large world map (following the inspiration of the photo to the left) in our dining room from which we can teach geography as we pray around the dinner table.
Participate in various outreaches
There are many simple giving opportunities that provide hands hospitality for people around the world. Collect crocs to send to needy children in Africa through Project Viatu, combine shoe box Christmas gifts for children through Operation Christmas Child, collect blankets for Voice of the Martyrs Blankets for Sudan drive, or collect coats and soup mixes to distribute to the homeless in your city. If you have sewing skills, check out the opportunities to sew blankets and clothes for people in other nations. The list is endless, but the needs are practical.
Giving as you learn the alphabet
Through the inspiration of Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve preschool curriculum, we are having a blast reaching out to others through service and baked goods that correspond with their name. We choose a neighbor and/or friend whose name begins with the letter of the week, and then we bake something yummy or serve in some way that also begins with that letter. We baked applesauce bread for our neighbor Ann, and we baked banana bread for our elderly neighbor Bob, for example. Of course you do not have to have the curriculum to do this as a family, and you could easily just work down a list of co-workers, neighbors, and others in your community to serve on a weekly basis. Baking something is a simple way to love on people and share Christ’s love and hardly is intimidating. And who would refuse a gift when delivered in the hands of a child? And as you deliver your goodies, consider asking them how your family can be praying for them. Include a simple note sharing the purpose of your gift.
Neighbor Gift baskets
You don’t have to do everything listed here, as there is certainly grace for every season, and I am sure you have many more ideas to share…but start with one thing today. Pray together as a family. Get everyone on board. And begin to cultivate a lifestyle of generosity from your doorstep.