Mary-like Hospitality in a Martha World

“Have you had dinner yet?” our neighbor asked.

“No,” we replied.

The next thing I knew, my roommate and I were eating a dinner of fried egg and a South Asian sweet in the home of our Muslim neighbors.

We had talked with them only as we passed by on the street, but a simple dinner invitation got us into their home and gave us a chance to get to know them better.

The hospitality in South Asia rivals that of the southern United States, any day, anytime. Whenever I’m invited into a home, I can expect to enjoy a cup of hot tea and warm cookies or even a full meal.

My roommate and I have been able to return the hospitality, having friends over for holiday parties and having curious neighbors over to see our apartment. Regardless of the why, we take these opportunities to share our faith with whoever enters our home.

Hosting someone in your home is a big deal to South Asians, and they show their appreciation for the person visiting them by being gracious hosts and serving lots of food.

It’s that hospitality that gives local believers an opportunity to invite their nonbelieving friends into their homes and share not only food but also Jesus with them. Hospitality is a bridge to the gospel in this region.

We see the same bridge in Scripture. While Jesus had no home of His own, He spent time in many other people’s houses.

For example, consider the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus was coming to their home, and we see 2 different responses to His coming. We see Martha rushing around to make everything just right for His visit and Mary, once Jesus arrives, sitting at His feet, just wanting to be with Him.

Jesus goes on to tell Martha that Mary has chosen the “good portion” after Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her serve Him. That “good portion” is being with Jesus and, for believers, telling others how they can be with Jesus, too.

We must remember, like Mary, that hospitality is not just getting ready for our guests to come; it’s being with them when they arrive. When we take the time to be with our guests, we have the opportunity to share the gospel that can change the lives of those who are in our homes.

Emily Todd* is a cross-cultural worker serving among the people of South Asia.

*Name changed.

Back to Top