So here's the story of our attempt at being hospitable to total strangers. It all began after church one Sunday in February when we met up with another couple for lunch at a Mexican restaurant on the south side of Paducah, KY.
As we entered the restaurant, our friend, Bill, was talking to some guy who was asking for money. The next thing I know, Bill invites this guy and his wife to join us for lunch.
As we ate lunch together, our two guests reeked of alcohol. Renee was seated next to the guy whose name was Mike. When she she learned that they were homeless, and his wife, Sally, was pregnant, Renee instantly volunteered our home: "You can stay with us tonight." I think I almost choked on my meal at that point. While I really appreciated my wife's desire to be hospitable and do the "good Samaritan" thing, she could have at least given me a heads up or some advance warning. I'm thinking "Honey, just pull me aside and let's talk about this before we extend an invitation." But no...maybe Renee figured that I was spiritual and mature enough to realize that this was the right thing to do.
We brought Mike and Sally home with us where they proceeded to take much needed showers as well as wash their clothes. We drove to an abandoned lot to pick-up their their suitcase full of clothes which they had hidden in a shack.
Mike and Sally stayed with us for a total of two days, but they were in and out of our lives for the next several weeks. They fabricated the story about Sally being pregnant which was intended to elicit sympathy and it worked. However, what was true was the fact that Sally had a master's degree in counseling and had worked in Seattle, Washington for a while. She came from a family of lawyers here in Paducah, KY and for whatever reason, she did not want to stay with them. Sally and her husband, Mike, were alcoholics.
After their two-day stay with us, we received phone calls almost daily asking for a meal, or a quick visit for a clean shower, or a ride somewhere. I prayed and asked the Lord for wisdom in wanting to do the right thing and seeking to be loving and gracious. Along the way, Renee and I talked and prayed with them. They both claimed to be Christians. I suspect Sally may have truly known the Lord but her husband Mike was such a "player" that I only God knows Mike's heart and his eternal destiny.
The last time I saw Sally, it was to visit her in the ICU at the hospital where she almost died because of health issues, complicated by her alcoholism. She was happy to see me and before I left, I prayed for her and asked the Lord to take care of her and give her rest, healing and wholeness. Her husband, Mike, had finally landed a job on a barge making good money, but he quit the job the minute he discovered that Sally was in the hospital. He loved Sally, almost to a fault, in the sense that he had to be in control over her and everything going on in her life.
About 3 months later, Sally died and her family here in Paducah held a memorial service for her. In the obituary, there was no mention of her struggle with alcohol, or homelessness.
I don't regret entertaining these strangers and I suspect that we will do something like this again. Maybe next time Renee and I will talk about it before we actually rush into something. But then again, it will probably be spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment, with the decision having been made days, weeks, months, years before in our quiet moments with the Lord where we offer ourselves as His bond slaves to do His will whenever and wherever. I suspect that Renee and I need more encounters with people like Mike and Sally who push us out of our comfort zone. What do you think?