Hanging out. What to me was simply a fun pastime in my life in the U.S. is now an important part of my ministry. That does not mean that I don’t enjoy it, but the reality is that having company–at all hours of the day, on someone else’s schedule, for however long is convenient for them, at whatever time they feel like it–is a huge time commitment.
Visiting is also a major way that our team is able to show the love of God to the Nahuatl people. It is no mystery to me that many of the first believers out here have been those we have “hung out” with the most over the last 7 years.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with my friend Andrea a few years ago. She was commenting that our team got along well with everyone. That we have “conversation” with whomever we meet. That is certainly not the norm in this culture, where people seldom trust even their family members and might have only one or two close friend they can count on. There are many old grudges, rivalries, and a healthy dose of offense and bad feelings that keep people from talking to the others in their community.
If we want to communicate that the Word of God is for everyone, it follows that we need to be willing to communicate with everyone. We will show that no one is excluded from our conversation, thus hopefully painting the picture that no one is excluded from God’s.
That means a lot of hanging out. A lot of hospitality, receiving whoever comes. A lot of visiting, trying to reach out to families that weren’t brave enough to arrive at our house. A lot of delaying lunch, or putting aside literacy work, or letting the dishes pile up, or forgetting about our own plans in order to talk, to encourage, to help, and to befriend.