What’s In a Home — A Story About Deliberate Hospitality (A June 2021 Update from the Beards).
The Beard/Lawson History.
Years ago the Beards and the Lawsons met together near Charlottesville, VA. Meetings were usually at the Lawson home but other times together were on trails, in canoes, and at Miller School, where the two households interacted in a food ministry. Both homes had a lifestyle of deliberate hospitality, and the same attitude persisted outside their homes when they traveled. Both homes had missionary orientation, loved the brethren, and looked to be of service. Their relationship went on for almost a decade before the two couples, although on good terms, had to be in separate states. Each home continued to have the same priorities and types of activities. Their contact was limited due to geography, but their friendship remained.
The plans were disrupted in the Lawson home in Indiana as Gene went to be with the Lord in May 2011. Faylene’s next few years were hard but she emerged stronger, continued ministering to widows, and awakened to new possibilities of overseas work. Her grown children assisted her when she needed it. She continued to support other missionaries and let her home be used for God’s purposes.
The plans at the Beard home in Virginia were increasingly disrupted by Linda’s cancers. Notwithstanding, Roland and Linda continued mission projects, albeit with greater difficulty. Overseas work in Uganda ended while a project in the Philippines picked up. Linda went to be with the Lord in August 2016. After a difficult period, Roland emerged stronger, picked up activity related to the Philippine project, and made plans to return to finish the biblical creation course work that was destined to be used in classrooms in a federation of Christian schools in the Philippines.
A Synopsis of Recent History for Roland and Faylene.
What is in a home? Each of us wanted to serve, whether the home was in the Philippines, Africa, or the US. We were still good friends in late 2016, although headed to different continents. We purposed to get together to compare notes, which happened at a short two-day period at Aaron and Michelle Lawson’s North Carolina home in December 2016. Each of us had the same intentions: get back to the mission field. Faylene was assembling information for a long stay in Ghana. Roland was finalizing plans to return to the Philippines to continue a major project. Our homes were in the US, but our hearts were often far outside the US.
God changed our relationship and plans in a dramatic and unexpected way in April 2017. By the end of June we were married. While we had a home in Virginia, all of our property was up for sale. We knew from the Holy Spirit that we were headed toward something different, but the same deliberate hospitality we had practiced was going to be a part of the future. It took us over a year to liquidate our property and to establish a small cabin in West Virginia.
We figured 500 square feet was big enough, since most of our time was probably going to be overseas. During our first two years together, half the time was spent in the Philippines with loved ones at the Institute of Foundational Learning. They gave us room to establish quarters with them — about the same space we had in our West Virginia cabin. We loved the staff, loved the children, and continued to develop materials for a federation of Christian schools as well as needy areas of the world.
What’s in a home? Our home in the Philippines was used like our homes from the past. The door was open, and many walked though it. We were doing what we had been doing for decades: letting God’s work be done using deliberate hospitality.
So what is biblical hospitality? It is the kind that extends a hand in the name of Jesus Christ. It can get practical but is very much spiritual, as well. That is what a home is all about if Christ is at the head. He received people of all sorts and communicated the loving kindness of the Father, but it always embraced the need for repentance from sin, a response to the message of the Kingdom of God, and the call to believe that a relationship with God was real. Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 5:10, 1 Peter 4:9, and Hebrews 13:2 speak of the the importance of hospitality. It is the kind that has feet, operates anywhere, and relies on a relationship with God in its functions. This style of living does not retire, sit back, retreat from God, or ignore the reality that God speaks to His children. We don’t do all this perfectly, of course, but we rely on the One that can. While the pandemic during the last two years slowed our activities, hospitality did not stop.
New Circumstances and Another Change in Home.
Circumstances in 2019-2020 also forced us to consider whether we could effectively get to and from overseas from the mountains of West Virginia. We concluded that we needed to move, began to pray for direction, and put everything we had on the table again. Where should we go? Home for us, regardless of location, was still the primary tool and base for writing materials and a place to exercise deliberate hospitality. The Holy Spirit gave us direction again in a series of steps. While it feels odd, we are re-establishing a home that is larger than our little cabin. A more accurate description is that we are redeeming an abandoned piece of property that had an unlivable old house. All that remains after the last few weeks of work is a foundation. The cabin in West Virginia will be moved to the same location and integrated into the home that will be rebuilt. It is more work than either of us ever expected to do again, but there is always peace in His direction. It won’t be easy, but deliberate hospitality is not either.
Our purposes have not changed. Deliberate hospitality and writing will mark the new home. Deliberate hospitality will mark our mission work overseas. In both cases, we expect to orient people to the created heavens, share about biblical creation, and share about the Kingdom of God. Our intention is to be fruitful, and the home in NC will be the base of that activity in the US. The rebuild process will probably take a year. In the meantime, we expect to go back to the Philippines as soon as visa restrictions are eased due to the pandemic.
Remembering the verses mentioned above, shouldn’t a home be useful? That excludes it being a monument, a hide-out, a place to retire, or a place dominated by self-interest. This home and property were not our idea, and we have seen the blessing of hospitality at work. While we are able, shouldn’t active believers expect fruitfulness to continue to increase? That is what deliberate hospitality is all about.
So, 37 Bottoms Way Drive, Bear Creek, NC 27207 is our new home address. We are there during most days but retreat to relatives in the evenings until the cabin gets moved down from West Virginia and approval for occupancy occurs. Rebuilding the remainder will follow. Meanwhile, we are beginning to write again and are tentatively planning to return to our loved ones in the Philippines later in the year. Contact information for CHRISTWORKS MINISTRIES, a Virginia-based non-profit organization, is on the CHRISTWORKS site and remains the same. Our Virginia board members are praying for us along with close friends. We have a lot of work to do in the US and abroad during the next years.