This week I had yet another cooking-for-company fiasco. I put two whole chickens into a hot oven at 5:00 p.m., and then for some reason turned the oven OFF without noticing. At 6:00, just a half hour before my guests arrived, I opened the oven door to take a look and found two stone-cold, raw chickens! Panic! My husband saved the day by wrestling and cutting them up for quicker cooking. Waiting for the meal to cook made for plenty of time to chat with our guests.
Even though I’m a cross-cultural worker in the Middle East, I spend most of my time going grocery shopping, cooking, taking kids to appointments, cooking, cleaning house, home schooling, and cooking. Sometimes I ask myself, where does ministry come in here? I don’t have much time for preparing Bible studies or planning outreach events...
What I can do is open my home and invite people into the life we’re already living. Dinner is a daily event at our house, and hospitality is probably my most significant ministry here.
Hospitality is About Being Flexible
Over the years I’ve learned to be flexible if people come late, if they come early, or if they bring extra friends along. On chicken fiasco night, I was happy when Bahar called at the last minute to ask if she and her husband could bring her brother Cem. Bahar and I have been praying for years that Cem would come to the Lord. We had a lovely evening laughing and telling stories. At the end we pulled out the Bible, as we do most nights, to read and pray together. I smiled when my kids prayed for Cem.
Hospitality is About Making Time
Lale is a young Christian who expressed to me several times that she wanted to get together, but I never made definite plans with her. However, the third time she asked about visiting us, I decided that rather than waiting for a convenient time, I would MAKE time for Lale. So I rushed home one afternoon after a prayer meeting to start preparing a simple dinner. When she arrived, I invited her to the kitchen and we talked while she helped me cook. Our family had a delightful time getting to know her, and after the kids went to bed, I worked up the courage to ask how her relationship with God was going. We spent a few minutes talking and praying about our daily time with God, and I sent her out the door with a hug.
I suspect that in the Middle East, simple hospitality speaks louder than a Bible study, but at the same time it can be overwhelming to invite people over. I like to remember the following real life hospitality tips.:
If you burn the food, laugh it off. You don’t need to impress anyone.
Let Your Guests Help
Don’t kill yourself trying to have everything ready on time. Invite guests to the kitchen and let them help you.
Keep It Simple
Have 2 to 4 easy recipes, default dishes you can cook for company anytime.
Serve a bar of chocolate broken into pieces with fruit and tea or coffee for a quick dessert.
What does hospitality look like in your home? What is your favorite tip for making entertaining easier?