By opening her home to asylum seekers, Margaret Landbeck has stretched and grown her faith.
Hospitality has always been a largely subconscious expression of my faith—it is my instinct to offer hospitality when and where I can. As the writer of Hebrews says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Offering hospitality has certainly grown my faith, just as my faith has encouraged my hospitality—and it has done so in surprising ways.
I have lived in many different countries, which is an experience that taught me to appreciate and respect different cultures and faiths. This has made me determined in recent years to do what I can to counter the current xenophobia and hostility that has been leveled at asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.
My husband and I have had the opportunity to offer many kinds of hospitality to refugees and asylum seekers and have observed others doing much more. We have ourselves experienced many kinds of unforgettably generous hospitality over the years also, which has been a valuable gift. These experiences of offering and receiving hospitality are part and parcel of what it means, for me, to be a Christian.
These experiences of offering hospitality to people different from myself have led me to ask questions:
• What is distinctive about my Christian faith, and what elements are shared with other faiths?
• Is God bigger than my particular faith expression and belief system?
• How can I be challenged by the way others live out their particular religious beliefs?
• Is my faith informing my humanity and my politics?
Wrestling with these questions has been an important part of my journey and a valuable part of my spiritual growth.
Offering this particular type of hospitality has been a learning experience. I have learned to respectfully accommodate other people’s beliefs and resulting cultural requirements. I have learned that giving people a safe and pleasant home experience and showing love without proselytising can counter some of the negative experiences these people have had from a so-called Christian country.
I am challenged, for instance, by God’s servant Job, who opened his house to strangers so that no one would be without a place to stay. We, likewise, should aim to always show God’s love to people who have come seeking help. This will not only be of service to them, but will enrich our faith as well.