Discouraged by his relationships, burned-out on his job and staggered by a host of fears, a journalist named Mike McIntyre decided to take two months to travel from his home in California to the East Coast. To ensure that the journey would test his wits and character, and reveal the fiber of the America people, McIntyre emptied his pockets, stuck out his thumb, and hitched his way across America penniless.
He chronicles his pilgrimage to Cape Fear in a book titled The Kindness of Strangers. Early in his trip he was welcomed by a Pentecostal church and Pastor Larry, the church’s leader. The pastor welcomed him into his home for the night, fed him, gave him a used tent and sent him on his way the next day, refreshed and resupplied.
McIntyre, pondering the hospitality of this good man and his family, writes: “I walk on, wondering how the people who have the least to give are often the ones who give the most.”
The writer’s experience was anecdotal, but research backs him up. Americans with lower incomes give a greater percentage of their incomes to charity than people in higher income brackets. Go figure.
When I read McIntyre’s account I could not escape thinking about my, and our, reaction to the strangers who walk in and out of our lives. Would we offer them a welcome? An encouraging word? A smile? A cheeseburger and fries?
Another writer, whose words show up in the Bible, admonishes Christians: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
Every Sunday you and I have opportunity to welcome to our church worshipers who are strangers to us. This is especially true during July and August as many moves are taking place across our land. Be alert to our guests and welcome them—they may be God’s messengers to us, which is what angels are.