In the past year, I’ve realized that one of the coolest things about having your own apartment is by far the concept of hospitality. I can invite whomever I want, whenever I want, for however long I want, to come to my apartment without asking for my parent’s permission or having to clean my room first. I get to play house and cook dinner for my friends. I get to invite people over for game nights. I get to put a sign that says “Welcome” on the front door and truly mean just that. Anyone and everyone is welcome.
While I have really tried to lean into the idea of hospitality and inviting others this past semester, during a trip to Kenya in May with Love Africa Mission, I was quickly humbled in realizing that I might not be as hospitable as I had come to believe.
I had the opportunity to go spend time with an incredible ministry that has a widow feeding program during my time in Kijabe, Kenya. Upon arrival at the first house, we found a group of 8 elderly widows, sitting around in a circle in between multiple homes. The conditions that surrounded the widows can only be described as extreme poverty, yet the joy that exuded from them was indescribable. They were all smiles, full of thanksgiving, laughter and praises for the King. The widows welcomed us with open arms, and made every effort to remember the names of all 20 team members. They spoke Swahili and a very small amount of broken English, so communication was limited without our translator. However, with the little amount of Swahili I know, I was able to pick out the word they kept repeating, “karibu,” meaning “You are Welcome.”
They gave us tours of their homes. They invited us to stay for longer. They repeatedly prayed for blessings on my team. They gave us hugs and shook our hands and begged us to come back to visit. They were the picture perfect vision of hospitality and receiving others with love and grace.
The word “Karibu” kept standing out to me, despite the hundreds of times I heard it that day. You are welcome here, you are welcome in this home, you are welcome in my life. What an interesting concept.
I was moved to tears by the welcoming nature of these 8 widows. But, what really humbled me was the realization that these women were only giving me a glimpse into the character of my heavenly Father.
How much MORE does our heavenly father welcome us into relationship with him? How much MORE does our Savior welcome us into his triumphal procession- a victory that we played no role in achieving but yet get to be a part of the celebration? How much more does He welcome us into his family as sons and daughters of the highest King?
Think about the lengths that God went to so that we would be welcome into all of the above. First, He created us and designed us to be in relationship with Him. However, we as humans screwed that up and put a huge gap that separated us from God called sin in the picture. But, despite our massive faults, He still wanted to be able to welcome us into his life and this glorious story that He has written, so He decided to kill sin once and for all through dying on a cross. God actually came down from Heaven, lived the perfect life for us, and then was innocently killed for it, simply so that we could be welcomed into the family.
If you think about the great lengths that God had to go through for us to know Him and love Him, I don’t think the popular logic of “God doesn’t know me, God doesn’t want me, and God can’t use me” makes a lot of sense.
So, in short, here is my message to you: YOU are so very welcome to be a part of God’s family. YOU are welcome to play a role in the story God has written that keeps unfolding day by day. YOU are welcome to be a son or a daughter of the Most High King. YOU are welcome to have a seat at the massive feast that is going to take place in Heaven one day. Karibu, YOU ARE WELCOME!
Did you hear that? That is wonderful news!
It means that Serena, a woman I met in Santa Cruz, California, who is traveling around the West Coast asking for money to survive is unbelievably welcome at God’s dinner table. Serena, if you are reading this, I hope to see you there!!
It means that the people involved in the human trafficking ring I witnessed in Charlotte, North Carolina are welcome to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus is able to set them free from that lifestyle!
It means that the “good girls” I met working as a camp counselor who don’t quite understand grace yet are welcome to approach the throne of grace with confidence! God can show you what that means!
It means that Caitlyn Jenner, despite all of her decisions and controversy, is welcome to know and be known by the Creator of the universe. She is welcome to be loved and accepted like never before.
It means that the drug addicts, the murderers, the prostitutes…they are ALL welcome to join the family and to be redeemed from their past mistakes. They are welcome to have a first-hand view of how the Lord can make brokenness beautiful.
If I could sit down with each and every one of you who is reading this, I would want you to know one thing: YOU are welcome. Are you mad at God? That’s okay, you are still welcome. Have you made past mistakes? Good news! Jesus is bigger than those. Don’t think you can be used by God? Try Him, it’ll blow your mind.
Despite what you’ve been told in the past, despite what your experience with the church might have been, despite how others have treated you, the King of the universe is looking down on you, saying Karibu, you are welcome.
Written by Taylor Frick
Daughter | Author | Clemson Tiger