I’m continuing my narrative about Christian hospitality, specifically how my family background has shaped my own attitudes.
Looking at the family photos now stored in a dusty box, I can imagine the softly slurred hill vernacular. Imagine? No, I have heard it in her sons and daughters—great-aunts, great-uncles, and my grandfather—as they argued politics and religion and endlessly retold delightful tales about each other. I have heard it in her grandchild, my father, as he slipped from his clipped professorial urbanity to the easy backland slur of his past.
My grandfather and the other surviving five children were a tightly knit and fiercely loyal clan who upheld certain codes I never heard delineated. But, even as a child I was convinced of their existence. The “shalls and shall-nots” were never verbalized to me, but their demonstrations were a surety.
Those six children grew and married, my grandfather to the daughter of a circuit-riding preacher. Tragedy hounded each generation in turn. Two of Cornelia’s daughters-in-law died: my grandmother Rosa at age 26, during her third pregnancy; the other in a flash flood. The clan rallied and took a hand in the raising of the six motherless children. Suffering left none of the progeny untouched. There were broken marriages, embittered personalities, and unhappiness. There were more untimely deaths. Yet, the spirit of that clan when congregated was unique. Together, they mirrored the best of their forebears.
To this day I define “family” in terms of what I observed of that Burton clan. They exercised a high-flown hilarity with sacred Christian devotion, and combined earth-rich wisdom with antic pranks. By no means perfect people, they established loyalty as a bond and placed a high priority on compassion.
I’m sharing my own life experiences, hoping to give you some insight into the importance of Christian hospitality. By talking about the development of an open heart in my own life, I’m trusting God to use what I’ve experienced to stir up some consideration of how your past has shaped your openness to being used by God in a similar way. Come back to this blog, won’t you please, and read more.
For decades, Karen Mains and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Karen has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
In addition, pastors will find special resources to help them create effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.