June 11, 2008

Open Heart, Open Door

2008 1516 page26 cap WAS DEVASTATED BY MY HUSBAND’S DEATH. I had depended on him for everything: paying the bills, shopping for food, taking care of the house and yard, and so forth. Without him I felt lost and found no interest in the ordinary things of life. I did, however, continue to attend church every Sabbath, where I found comfort in hearing God’s spoken word.
One evening, feeling sad and alone, I knelt to pray. I asked God what He wanted me to do. I have three wonderful children, each of whom would’ve taken me to live with them, but they each lived in a different state.

Where I was living, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, I had a good job, a warm and caring church, and everything
was familiar. That night I prayed for guidance. Should I go live with one of my children so I wouldn’t be so alone, or did God have another plan for me?

While I didn’t feel as if I received a direct response to my prayer, I put my trust in God that all would be well if I relied and waited on Him.
Answering the Door
A few days later my doorbell rang. When I went to the door, I found a young couple asking if my house was for rent.
2008 1516 page26“No, my house isn’t for rent,” I answered. “What makes you think it is? I don’t have a sign posted, and there are curtains on my windows.”
The young woman responded that they didn’t know what drew them to this house, only that they needed a place to live.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t even have a room for rent.”
They turned and started down the stairs, but just as they did, I realized this could be an answer to my prayer. Quickly, I called them back and told them that although I had no apartment for rent, I did have an extra bedroom if they wanted to stay in it until they found something else. To my surprise, they said that would be fine. They also explained that they had a baby, only 6 months old, who would also be with them. I told them the baby was welcome also. They asked if they could return the following day, and they left without even looking at the bedroom! I was excited and delighted, especially about the baby.
Just as they said, they came the next evening with an adorable baby boy, Juan. After getting acquainted, they began to tell me of their troubles in Ecuador, about how they longed for a better life for their children, and of their flight to the United States. I spoke a little Spanish and they spoke a little English, so we were able to communicate quite well.
Upon learning that they were undocumented immigrants, I told them that if authorities happened to come looking for them, I would not be able to lie.
I’ll never forget the next words that the young woman spoke. “Oh,” she said, “but they will not come here; this is God’s house. We will be safe.”
I remembered my prayer and smiled. We understood each other perfectly.
Growing Together
As the days went by we spent many hours together. Fernando, the young man, found a good job as a chef and began to save money toward their immigration. Italia, the young woman, took care of little Juan and watched over the house. I began taking the baby to church with me every Sabbath, even to prayer meeting on Wednesday nights. This delighted his parents.

Questions for Reflection

1. When has an act of service lifted you out of feelings of loneliness and despair? What lasting relationships resulted from that act?

2. Why is it that when we pray for answers, we often become the means of answering someone else's prayers?

3. Read Romans 12:6-8. Is hospitality a spiritual gift? How would the Holy Spirit use it to build up the congregation in your community?

Name one or two families in your congregation who have the gift of hospitality. In waht tangible ways is it demonstrated?

One day, about a week after their arrival, they told me they had a 5-year-old son still in Ecuador with his grandparents. “Well,” I said, “you have to bring him here to be with you.”

We all knew how hard this would be. But we prayed together and asked for God to find a way to make this happen if it was His will. After several months and many difficulties, 5-year-old Marcelo was sent to us. He was a polite little boy, and he also began to go to church with Juan and me. Italia also attended church with us on occasion, and my life was happy and complete once again.
We lived like this for several years, and then one day Italia told me she was going to have another baby. Well, our house was becoming too small for this growing family. So we decided to find a larger house. Fernando was able to find a nice house in a nearby neighborhood, and we all moved together. Shortly after this move, baby Luis was born, and I now had three boys to take to church with me on Sabbath.
As the boys grew, I took them to their ball games and other activities, and we became very close.
As each boy grew to the age of understanding, he was baptized into the Adventist Church.
Now Juan is married to Mary, also an Adventist. Marcelo is married to Jenna, who goes to church with him every Sabbath. Luis is in college, witnessing for his Lord. Even Fernando and Italia attend church every Sabbath.
Although I can’t explain it, I think I finally understand why God’s ways are so mysterious. Who else could take the tragedies and heartaches of life and replace them with the joy of friendships and loving relationships that are as close as any family’s?
Anna Perez, now retired, writes from Ashland, Ohio.