A few years ago a couple of young women from Kenya lived with Gwen and I for about six months. They were doing an educational program at CHOP. This month, when their cousin was coming to town, they made sure to write and let us know that he would come by to pay his respects (a good African custom). He did come to visit last Sunday afternoon, along with another cousin who has lived in Harlem for many years, and his girlfriend who has just started an internship at Penn.
As it turns out, we had a lot more to talk about than we expected: Las Vegas, Mombasa, architecture, and West Philly history. And then we got to talking about Africa: the Congo, since I can’t get that country out of my mind, and Zimbabwe/Zambia, since we were just there. Once Gwen and I got going on all the things we care about, especially MCC’s work all over the world, it was kind of hard to get us to stop! Our guests finally made the connection that we are Jesus followers, I’m a pastor, Gwen’s a psychologist and our church is called Circle of Hope.
The cousin from New York is planning to move to West Philly while his girlfriend finishes her internship. He finally said, “Where is this Circle of Hope?” We told him and he said, “I think I saw the name of that church somewhere.” His girlfriend pointed to the window, where we have one of our little laminated logos.
This little story kind of puts it together for me. Hospitality is good. Conversation is the place where people connect the dots between their hearts and the Lord’s. And it never hurts to have a little placard in your window. At the right time, people bring back that awareness it planted and find a way to the place where Jesus can be found. I continue to smile whenever I think of him being intrigued enough to ask, “Where is this circle of hope?”