Traveling has given me the opportunity to read more than usual. I love finding new books by hunting through the stacks at the library or sifting through reviews from trusted sources. When I discovered my friend Leslie Verner had a new book coming out this month, I was intrigued. While my travels to unknown places happened later in life, Leslie bravely answered the siren song of escaping to places unknown when she was young by moving to China to teach English.
The experience of being an outsider has marked much of what she has done since her time out of the country. Long story short, Leslie and her family have invested themselves in relationships with people who we might consider outsiders: people born in far away places who love the US and call it home. We might like the idea exercising hospitality, yet we come up empty as we try to figure out how to reach beyond our self-imposed boundaries to forge new relationships.
In her new book, Invited: The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness, Leslie outlines many of the misconceptions we have about hospitality which cause us to stop short of investing ourselves in other people. Filled with encouraging words, great stories, and some simple ideas to replicate, Invited is just the book we need to encourage us to build community right where we live.
“Reimagining hospitality in the West requires cavorting with a God who delights in busting up our normalcy with divine creativity.” Invited
Walking along the Great Wall in China, surrounded by people who look and sound so different, a young girl approached and asked if we knew the way down. We gave her our best guess and she walked away. It was not until after she disappeared around the corner that we realized despite her Chinese features, her English was perfect making us curious about her story. In China, we were the anomaly and she blended in with the crowd. Draining the last of our water, we arrived to take our place in line for the toboggan ride down the mountain. As we waited, I realized the girl who asked for directions was immediately in front of us. Filled with confidence from Invited and a new desire to stretch outside of my comfort zone, I struck up a conversation with this young girl.
Turns out, our new friend was raised in North Carolina by Chinese parents and was working in Southern China teaching English. She recently graduated from Davidson and we discovered that we both knew the same person. What a small world! We had a great visit and once the rain delay lifted, we followed her down the mountain on our little sleds.
So, you too must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of egypt. Deuteronomy 10:19
Flipping through the pages of my copy of Invited, I am struck by how many lines of text are covered in yellow highlights with notes in the margin like “Amen, sister” and “Yes”. Leslie’s words are an affirmation from God that now is the time to invest ourselves in relationship. She reminded me, “our schedules and tasks often barricade us from the intimacy and community we desire.” We must resist the temptation to hold back in the hope that a better offer will come along.
Invited gives you the who, what, why and how of hospitality from a friendly voice who as lived as and among the lonely. If you feel as though you don’t have the gift of hospitality but have a tugging in your heart to reach out to someone in your path who may be lonely, I highly recommend Invited. Leslie gave me an extra copy to give away to one lucky member of the FMM community.
There are three ways to enter:
1. Leave a comment below.
2. Share this post on Facebook.
3. Subscribe to Faith Moves Mountains.
One winner will be chosen on Friday, August 16 at 6:00 EST. I can’t wait to see who wins.