When our family lived in the Philippines from 2012 to 2018, we hosted our Peace Church community in our home every weekend and opened our doors to countless friends throughout the week.
I remember reading articles about the absence of “the village” in today’s society and how families struggle to feel cared for and connected. Yet, there I was, with a “village” in my home all week! I always made enough dinner for extra people who might join us at the dinner table; we regularly had people staying at our house overnight; and we even had a family of five stay with us the week I gave birth to our fourth child.
Our family back home in British Columbia were often surprised by the number of people coming in and out of our home, and they wondered how I could handle so much activity in the house, especially with four kids in tow. While it is certainly nice to sometimes have a quiet home—like these long winter evenings when the kids are all finally asleep and I can cuddle up with a good book—I love welcoming friends, family and a little extra chaos into my home.
It might seem like more work, but it actually ends up lightening my load, as kids are cared for by those we welcome, and we all feel a wonderful sense of community. I hardly call it hosting anymore, as that sounds like I’m putting on a big fancy dinner spread. Instead, I’m simply welcoming people into my home regardless of the mess, the fussy kids or the pile of laundry on the couch. Our doors are always open, and we are rich because of it!
It’s upside-down practices like this that best describe my family. We tend to find a third option, one that acknowledges our own culture (Canadian and also Filipino!) and is guided by the example of Jesus to live in a way that’s often unique and always inviting. We make space for the neighbour, the outsider and the children, and we are welcoming, vulnerable and caring to the people in our lives.
When we moved back to Canada last summer, I wondered how I would be able to build that type of community again. We had so many young single adults in our home in Manila, who helped raise our kids. How would I find that in our little rural B.C. town?
I joked to a friend about paying a handful of babysitters to just hang out with us. And what do you know, not long after, a wonderful friendship with our neighbours evolved, and the after-school hours are now filled with their teenage girls in our home or my kids all down the street at their house. We share meals, baking, babysitting, school pick-up and even our car. And now they’ve joined our church community, too!
When we wholeheartedly welcome people into our lives and into our homes, we can create a “village” of support and love that’s fun, often messy and always life-giving. The small church in our new hometown, where my husband pastors, is a welcoming group of hospitable Jesus-followers, much like my own family strives to be. As a family, I can’t think of a better way to show the love of Jesus than by welcoming people into our home, our lives and our hearts.
Christina Barkman, with her four little ones and her pastor husband, seeks to live out Jesus’ creative and loving “third way” options.