Inviting Internationals to the Table With Christlike Hospitality

by Leiton Chinn

The U.S. Lausanne Committee, also known as the Mission America Coalition (MAC), recently concluded its annual national gathering in Dallas, Texas. During the gathering, President/CEO Nick Hall announced MAC’s new name as The Table Coalition.

But why “table”? The Table Coalition leaders shared various analogies of a table, including “a place to gather, listen, and share. Tables make room for all kinds of people, and everyone has something to offer or receive. A table is a place to be nourished, and then go out with strength.”

Strategic collaboration may occur around a table. Cru’s President, Steve Douglass, told the story of how mission and ministry executives seated at a conference about unreached and unengaged peoples decided over Table 71 to partner together in reducing the number of remaining unengaged people groups down to zero.

The cross is readily noticeable in The Table Coalition’s new logo, featuring a horizontal rectangular table positioned in between two chairs above and below it. The coalition seeks to answer the question, “Who is missing from the table?”

Hosting International Students

How might we invite all peoples and all nations to the table of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? One way is to invite people from other nations whom God has sovereignly brought to our communities, campuses, and churches to join us at our own supper tables.

We are all admonished to practice hospitality, and surely there can be mutual blessing from sharing, receiving, and learning from those from other cultures and countries. Hebrews 13:2 reminds us that hosting internationals may be a way to receive God’s angelic messages from strangers and foreigners.

While hospitality is still commonly practiced in many cultures and countries, it is not as common in the U.S. and some other western societies as in the past. This is addressed more extensively in Dr. Christine Pohl’s book, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition.

But there are special celebrations and occasions that lend themselves to include international students and scholars who may not be able to return home during the academic holidays and who would appreciate the opportunity to join an American family around the dining table.

Ever since I began encouraging the church to welcome and host international students over four decades ago, I have heard the repetitive declaration that 80% of international students never enter an American home. Even though I have sought to find the research that reported such a claim without success, the reality is that the majority of students from other countries do not experience being hosted in an American home.

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Source: Christianity Today