Biblical Hospitality: 4 Basic Needs (and how to help)
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. -Mathew 25:35-40
The Bible verse above, from Mathew, is a practical “how-to” of hospitality. I see four basic human needs that are directly addressed in this passage: food, clothing, shelter, and companionship. @@Hospitality, as described in the Bible, is about showing brotherly love for the stranger. How can we do that?@@ More than anything, hospitality is an attitude of the heart- but it manifests itself in some practical ways. I want to share with you some organizations and examples of people who are already doing good work on behalf of others. I also want to use this space to open up a conversation about additional ways we can show God’s love to those around us through Biblical hospitality.
This is part two of a series on hospitality, a follow-up to my earlier post, called 6 Truths About Biblical Hospitality, an overview of Biblical hospitality.
Food and Drink
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink
(U.S.): Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive- May 14, 2016
From their website,
“The drive is held each year on the second Saturday in May, and so Saturday, May 14, has for months been circled on the calendars of hunger-relief advocates who have watched as food supplies collected during winter holiday drives dwindle day by day. The drive also comes just before many school systems end their academic years, and that often can mean a suspension in subsidized meals for many students.”
This is an easy one to participate in. If you’re in the U.S., you probably received a blue plastic bag in your mailbox this week. All you need to do is put some non-perishable food in the bag and set it out by your mailbox on Saturday (May 14, 2016) by 8am. Your mail carrier will take it and get it to the right people.
If you did not receive a blue bag in your mailbox, there are some online options for contributing. For San Francisco, NYC, or Greenwich CT, you can go here. If you’re in the Seattle area, you can go here.
(Global): Action Against Hunger is an organization that does a lot of work, globally, to eradicate hunger as well as working to provide safe water and sanitation.
From the Action Against Hunger website,
“Today, we still live in a world where:
-663 million people around the world do not have access to a source of safe, clean water
-2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines
-Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable waterborne diseases”
Here is a video from 2016's World Water Day that shows what they're doing...
You can donate to Action Against Hunger here.
I was naked and you clothed me
(U.S.) Sleep Train Foster Kids Clothing Drive May 2-June 26
From their website,
There are over 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, many of which have entered with little to no possessions. Many have suffered the effects of poverty, neglect, and even abuse. Studies show that for many foster children, these challenges are just beginning.
Everyone feels their best when they look their best, and foster kids are no exception! Stylish, new clothes offer a boost of confidence and the chance to express ourselves to the world.
You can help local foster children look and feel their best by hosting your own Sleep Train Foster Kids Clothing Drive. It’s an easy way to give back to your community while leaving the heavy lifting of planning and promotion to us!
To learn more about how to host a (new) clothing drive, you can go here.
(Global): Sole Hope- provides new shoes and medical relief for the treatment and prevention of jiggers in Uganda.
Find out more by watching this video:
I was a stranger and you welcomed me
Through the work of Habitat, thousands of low-income families have found new hope in the form of affordable housing. Churches, community groups and others have joined together to successfully tackle a significant social problem―decent housing for all.
Since 1976, Habitat has helped 6.8 million people find strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter.
To learn more about how to work with Habitat for Humanity, go here
I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me
This program is local to the area where I live and it serves women who are being helped by a local women's shelter. I realize that most of you who are reading are not local, and you will not be able to help in this specific program, but I'll tell you what I did there, because it's a good example of what can be done to provide companionship to those who need it and because the idea of this program can easily be replicated.
I was a companion to a young lady who had recently been homeless. The shelter found her an apartment. She had food and clothing. But she also needed someone to offer some unconditional friendship. I volunteered because my youngest child had recently started kindergarten and I suddenly had some free time. I wanted to give to my community and I didn't have a lot of extra money to give away. Money is practical and necessary- but it doesn't serve every need. @@Companionship is a need that requires only time...and a heart that cares.@@
I would drive her to appointments. I took her to the food bank. I taught her how to cook a few easy things and organize her kitchen. We went to Starbucks (a lot...she loved that place) and I was just there for her.
Every companion match is different. The needs are varied. It can get messy. I won't say it was easy- but it was time well spent. I know it meant something to her. It meant a lot to me, too.
Mathew 25:35-40 talks about visiting those who are sick and/or in prison. I think Christians need to take that literally. But we can also recognize that not everyone who is sick is in a hospital and not everyone who's in prison is behind bars.
"Loneliness is a kind of prison." -Vincent Van Gogh
‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
The four basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, and companionship) that I’ve focused on, here, today, are just a start. I hope that this post serves to encourage you and that it sparks additional ideas on how to practice Biblical hospitality. I didn't address one obvious, all-encompassing example of hospitality (orphan and foster care) because I plan to do that in the next and final post of this series on Biblical hospitality.