Hospitality – in the states we associate this with words like inviting, welcoming, and understanding. It is such a simple word. I would have never thought one word could hold so much depth – that one word could dictate a culture. Living here in Southeast Asia has redefined my view of what it means to be hospitable.
If you take what you know of hospitality and multiply it by 5, maybe 10, you get an idea of the degree to which it is shown here. Experiencing it first hand opened my eyes to see a bigger picture. I came here to serve people and at every turn I’m the one being served. They seem to always be one step ahead of me.
This unexpected dynamic makes witnessing a challenge. How do you meet the needs of people groups who, in their eyes, have everything? I’ve only been in base town for one week and am already frustrated that I cannot offer them anything. I am broken and discouraged after each encounter. I want more than anything for a way to reach their hearts. “God, break my heart, show me a way.”
In the midst of walking the streets and seeing altars at every corner and incense waiting to be ignited at every post, God speaks to me, “What they know of love isn’t complete. They are a people who look to other deities and ignite their incense for luck hoping to pull their karma. They are afraid. They lack in courage and suffer from shame. They have no hope. Even the most beautiful of roses has the sharpest of thorns.”