Carolyn Hill Story
Over the past few months, I’ve been learning a lot about hospitality. I mostly hear about people having the “gift of hospitality” because they love to host people or are particularly good at welcoming in new people to their circle of friends. While both of these descriptors of hospitality are fruitful and will ultimately glorify God, the Bible talks explicitly about hospitality in light of the foreigner or stranger in our life. Deuteronomy 10:18-19 talks about God’s heart for the foreigner and His command to the Israelites. It says, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Additionally, Jesus teaches that we should “love our neighbors as ourselves.” In the book of Luke, an expert in the law responds to Jesus and asks “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus proceeds to answer this question by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a story rooted in God’s call for us to love the foreigner, the outsider, and the sojourner. The more I learn about God’s care for the foreigner, the more I want to also be caring for the foreigner around me.
I first met Nur Hazizah about a year ago. She was only five at the time, and her family had arrived from Burma just a few years before. When she introduced herself that day, I don’t think I heard much past the first syllable “Nur” as her quiet voice trailed off. I would ask her simple questions about what she liked to do for fun or who was in her family, and mostly she just smiled back at me or neglected to answer at all. I knew that she was probably always a quiet person, and this actually made me more comfortable being around her. God made me to be soft spoken but strong, and I think Nur Hazizah is the same way. She is quiet but I’m learning she is also incredibly silly. She is determined and cares for her family deeply. Every week we get to read together, and sometimes that feels like the only thing we’re doing, but I know that God is at work in our relationship.
Before we start reading I ask Nur Hazizah what she wants to pray for, and I also ask her if there is anything difficult going on in her life. When I first started asking her these questions, she just gave me a confused look. We’ve shared plenty of long silences as I wait for her to answer, but I know that just asking will slowly plant seeds of the hope of Jesus Christ in her life. I pray that as I ask and wait for her reply, she will begin to see that there is a God who cares deeply for her. We’ve gotten to pray for her mom to learn English, and we pray for her to do well in school. My favorite part of Reading Circle is the relationship God has formed between Nur Hazizah and I. She challenges me and loves me in incredible ways.
I’m learning that all I can do is seek to obey Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He isn’t waiting for me to be successful or disappointed by how small my actions feel sometimes. He simply tells me to love the foreigner. He tells me to love them just like I love my own family. He is doing more than I can ask for or imagine, and I need to remember that He is transforming people despite my feeble efforts to do that. Reading Circle has been an incredible part of this past year in Dallas, and I’m excited to see what God continues to do through my friendship with Nur Hazizah.