Hospitality can be a way of life, far beyond inviting friends over for pizza on a Friday night.
For me it started many years ago…
Dirt and Sticks
I remember hearing stories from my mom of how her parents taught people who lived in a remote village in Africa how to take their spoken dialect and write, leading to translating the Bible into their dialect, planting churches, and hosting Bible Studies in their humble home. They first began to transcribe this spoken dialect through writing out sounds in the dirt with a stick. It was a painstaking journey for them, there were hardships, but they endured and used their gift of hospitality to serve as missionaries in Chad Africa.
Scrambled Eggs and a Tool Belt
My father ran a small construction business when I was a child. He made it his mission to hire men who were rough around the edges and needing work. Through the years they built homes and churches throughout Chicagoland. It was typical for me to come down the stairs and see my dad and his crew sitting around our kitchen table eating a hearty breakfast before heading into a day of work. He filled their stomachs, taught them skills, gave them a purpose, and I like to think that what they learned from my dad stuck with them for years to come.
This whole hospitality way of life idea looks different for everybody. I have not served as a missionary overseas and you certainly don’t want me to build your house, but I did learn to use my natural abilities to create a space for people to belong. It has been a journey with lots of twists and turns.
I spent years working in the field of foster care. Trying to help families come back together after terrible things had happened, and great harm had come to a child. Because foster care cannot intervene until after children have been harmed, reunification was too infrequent of an outcome. Leaving a child not only with the challenge of healing from the abuse they had sustained, but also the profound lifelong loss they suffer from losing their parent.
Safe Families for Children and Hospitality
I knew I was on the right path, but something wasn’t sitting right with me, is foster care really where I wanted to spend my entire career? For a season- yes. But I think these experiences were preparing me for something more.
In 2012, I was able to find employment at Safe Families for Children. Later my husband and I became an approved host family. It provided that missing piece, that unrest I felt with foster care. Safe Families gives us the chance to help children prior to them being harmed, a way to help families who are in crisis to get back on their feet, and a way to exercise the gift of hospitality I had been yearning to use.
My grandparents and my parents used their gifting to serve in hospitable ways, and now I have found mine! As the current Director of the Greater Chicago Chapter of Safe Families, on a daily basis I get to see the positive impact families and area churches can have when we together extend ourselves on behalf of children and their struggling parents.
Safe Families for Children is looking for area churches who want to help us recruit and support compassionate volunteers who are looking to keep children safe and ultimately together with their families. Relationships are often formed between families that create extended family like supports. It expands the safety net by providing a family in needed sanctuary for the most vulnerable among us. Safe Families is a non-coercive alternative to the stare child welfare system, allowing parents to work out their problems without having to worry about losing custody of their child.
There are so many ways to get involved. Host Families host the children, Family Friends provide support for a host and/or placing parent, and Resource Friends provide goods and services, or facilitate a donation drive for us. Would you be willing to donate your professional service, or provide a scholarship for a child who is placed in one of our area host homes? Below is also a link you could us to make a monetary donation to Safe Families for Children. Thank you for considering how you too can make a difference in a life of a child!
For more information about us please visit our website at www.safe-families.org– Greater Chicago Chapter or contact Joyce at [email protected]