Excitement and fear battled each other as I experienced feelings similar to those that had overtaken me the day I prepared to go skydiving.
No one would be jumping out of planes today, but the event that was about to take place would be even more life changing. We were on our way to pick up a total stranger, a Ukrainian student who would live with us for the school year.
This didn’t seem like the kind of thing my introverted family would sign up for, and yet here we were. I reflected on the things my friends had said as they learned of our plans.
“I could never have a non-Adventist live in my home.”
This was what I was most nervous about. How would she respond to our family’s religious culture? Would she embrace our habits, or would keeping our standards be a constant battle?
“This is such a great opportunity to be a witness!”
That statement, too, made me shudder. I’m keenly aware of my own imperfections. What if I were the opposite of a witness, turning her off to the Adventist faith? How would I find that fine line between openly sharing my faith and hitting her over the head with new ideas?
I determined that my priority would be to show love to her. We would include her in our family’s religious customs; but rather than initiate spiritual conversations, I would wait for her to ask questions. And I would pray.
For seven months she didn’t ask any questions. But when the war in Ukraine started, we had the opportunity to show love in a way we’d never imagined. Our lives turned upside down as we began working with her and her parents to make decisions about her future.
My conversations with her mother naturally took on a more religious tone. And when her mother messaged me at 4:00 a. m. one morning asking me to pray “right now,” my husband and I joined hands to take her country to God in prayer.
Our host daughter seemed genuinely touched when we expressed a willingness, if necessary, to take care of her beyond what we’d initially signed up for.
And after months of friendship and prayer she has started asking questions, the kinds of questions I’ve so eagerly been waiting and praying for.
It may have seemed an odd thing for an introverted family to open their home to a stranger, but we’ve no doubt that God led us to this decision. Introverts may not be excellent at small talk or initiating religious discussions, but one thing introverts excel at is deep, meaningful relationships. By intentionally becoming close friends with someone outside our own faith circle, we’ve opened the door for God to work through us in ways we don’t even yet understand.
Lori Futcher is an editor for the new “Alive in Jesus” Sabbath School curriculum that will be released in the next few years.