Reaching Your Neighbors Through Hospital
About the Guest
Perhaps evangelism is as easy as inviting your neighbor over for coffee. Nan McCullough, who serves with her husband at the Christian Embassy in Washington, D.C., tells how hospitality can be the avenue through which you share Christ with others.
Perhaps evangelism is as easy as inviting your neighbor over for coffee.
Reaching Your Neighbors Through Hospital
Nan: It’s not about what you have. It’s more about being available to share what little you have no matter how simple it is. But, it’s the heart attitude you have to want to, you have to want to be available to be used of the Lord, and I’m telling you you’re going to be blessed way more by the people that come into your home than they’re even going to be blessed by you.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, May 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about the profound power of hospitality, and how God wants to use you to reach others.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. We’re going to spend some time talking this week about how God can use you and your home—whatever your home is: Whether it’s an apartment, or a house or whatever. We’re going to talk about how God can use that to have an impact in the lives of people you know, people who live around you, people from your work. We’re going to talk about the whole subject of hospitality but you’re over there waving a flag like you want to call a time out before we start today’s program.
Dennis: Well, I’ll tell you what I’m kind of like here. You know if you travel along the beltway they’re always going through some construction there on the beltway, and you’ve probably seen a worker holding up a sign that says slow down, or maybe there’s construction work ahead? Well, I’m holding up a sign, but my sign says I need your help!
You know since 1992 we’ve been here on FamilyLife Today helping you win in life’s most important commitments: Your relationship with God, your spouse, and your family. We do that from a biblical perspective, and try to give you practical advice that comes solidly from scripture. But, to do that we need folks who donate to this ministry, and who stand alongside us so I’m coming to you today because I need your help. Will you stand with us? When you give your gift is going to be matched dollar for dollar, and if you can give I want you to know I really appreciate you.
Bob: You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make your donation online or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation. As you mentioned this matching gift opportunity that has been made available to us during the month of May – it’s a dollar for dollar match up to a little more than 300,000 dollars that’s been given to us for the matching gift. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to donate, or call 1-800-FLTODAY and we do appreciate your support of this ministry and helping to keep us on the air on this station and the network of stations we’re on all across the country.
Now, I am actually pretty excited about what we’re going to be talking about today because we’re going to be combining spiritual stuff and food right? I mean does it get better than that?
Dennis: You know I have to tell our listeners we had a staff meeting, and Bob got up and I asked him to share about what had happened at the conference that he’d been speaking at.
Bob: This was back when I’d spoken at Hershey, Pennsylvania back in the spring right?
Dennis: Right! All Bob could talk about was the tour he got of Hersheys – how they make the chocolate chips, and kisses, and chunks.
Bob: Pretty interesting – I went to chocolate world, and I thought our staff would want to hear about my trip to chocolate world.
Dennis: I had to stop him! I said, “Bob are you on the payroll for Hersheys…
Bob: Or FamilyLife right?
Dennis: Yes, exactly! But, he finally got around to it, and you know what there was a lot of great things that happened at the Weekend to Remember
Bob: Once again you combine food and ministry and I’m there.
Dennis: And, you attracted people! I mean it was magnetic. It didn’t matter that it was Valentine’s Day – that probably helped, but, anyway enough of this nonsense.
We are going to talk about spiritual matters and food. We have well a very gifted professional to help us do that. Nan McCullough joins us on FamilyLife Today. Nan welcome to our broadcast.
Nan: Well, thank you – I’m glad to be here!
Dennis: Nan is a fellow Campus Crusade for Christ staffer. It’s not often I have the chance of interviewing someone who’s been on staff longer than I have, but she joined in 1968 – am I right? She was only two years old when she joined but she’s been on staff now for wow 42 years. Pretty cool – started out in the college campus in the northeast, and then moved to Washington, D.C. along with your husband Sam where you work in the Christian Embassy.
I want you to share with our listeners a little about The Christian Embassy because this is really encouraging that this kind of ministry is occurring kind of underneath the radar. You really don’t want to tell anybody so this is kind of big deal that we’re talking about here on the radio.
Nan: We like to stay under the radar. We don’t usually do radio interviews about our ministry.
Dennis: You really do! Yes, but tell our listeners what’s happening with The Christian Embassy in Washington, D.C.?
Nan: Well, it’s a ministry to the leaders of our nation, and we like to say it’s a spiritual resource in the private lives of very public people. So, that’s why we try to stay under the radar. But, our goal is to reach men and women who are significant leaders in our world today. If you change a leader you’ll change the world.
Bob: I had the opportunity a number of years ago – Nan called and asked if I’d come up and speak to the Congressional wives on Capital Hill for a Bible study that you were hosting at the time.
Dennis: You know I’d forgotten that you did that Bob!
Bob: Flew in, and had a delightful time talking to a room full of women that you had gathered there. It really is a significant ministry to folks who are in – you talk about a pressure cooker. This is a pressure cooker world these folks live in isn’t it?
Nan: Yes, it is. It really is!
Dennis: And, I had the chance to speak well right off the Capital rotunda to a Bible study that was held with Congressional leaders, and also at The Pentagon. So, your ministry really is all over the hill, and again it’s a very private matter but Nan we’re just talking around friends right now. Give us some of the inside of what’s happening behind the scenes: You can trust me fully. Go ahead share with me what’s going on!
Nan: The Lord’s at work Dennis. I assure you!
Dennis: I knew that would be your answer. That’s really been the key to their ministry – they don’t talk about it. I just want you to know that you need to pray for ministries like The Christian Embassy because these are strategically placed ministries and people who are coming alongside those who need spiritual advice – need Godly counsel and it is happening.
Bob: Well, and it occurs to me I just referred to it as a pressure cooker. I don’t know why I have food so much on the brain but there I am talking about a cooking utensil as well. Maybe it’s because of this book that you’ve written called: Entertaining for Eternity which is not all about food but let’s face it if you entertain and there’s no food you haven’t really entertained right? I mean am I right about that?
Nan: Well, there’s something about food that makes people relax and let their hair down and feel comfortable.
Dennis: Tell us about your own gift of hospitality. Did you grow up in a home that had a lot of hospitality? Where did you pick this up Nan?
Nan: No, I don’t have the gift of hospitality, and that’s one message I want to get out is that you don’t have to have the gift; you just have to be available. The home I grew up in was what I would call a nominal Christian home. You went to church because good people did – my Dad was a retired Army Colonel, and so my parents knew how to entertain, and to have people in, and to do it with style. Their goal was to impress. Come over and let me show you what a nice party I can put on.
But, then I met my husband whose parent’s were what I call real life mud hut missionaries. His mother was a rural girl growing up with itinerant pastor for a father and you know in South Carolina.
Dennis: Now, wait a second they didn’t live in a mud hut in South Carolina.
Nan: No, that was in Bolivia!
Dennis: But, they practiced hospitality as a couple?
Nan: Wherever they were. And, when I first became aware of my mother-in-law and my father-in-law’s hospitality – of course the first time I met them you know I came in and she dropped everything she was doing and rushed to the door like I was an old lost friend and hugged on me and said, “Oh my dear, I declare” and started just loving on me and then we would go to raise our support in Crusade we go to churches and we speak, and I would run into people at conferences that knew Sam’s mom and dad, and wherever I went they just raved about Joe and Elizabeth McCullough.
I thought well, what is it about this couple that wherever I go people rave about them? So, I began to observe them, and I began to observe her and how she operated in her home, and how her gracious southern hospitality was truly a ministry.
Dennis: So, what is hospitality? I mean we talk a lot about it, but what did you observe in her and what makes it so powerful?
Nan: Well, too many times, and this is true in Washington people entertain, and when you come over everything’s perfect and you feel a little on edge even. You wonder what fork to use and all of that. But, hospitality is where you walk into a home and you feel like part of the family right away – you feel loved on!
Dennis: You’re saying that when we had some friends over the other night for dinner with us and we watched a television program that we watch together as couples. I was cleaning out the ashes out of the fireplace when they were coming in the front door. So not having everything perfect is okay, and just to invite people in and say, “You’re a part of our home for this evening – welcome.”
Nan: It’s like back last winter when Washington was socked in with a blizzard and three houses worth of neighbors were out digging themselves out and I turned to everybody and I said, “What are you guys doing for dinner”? They looked at me kind of blank, and I said, “Well, I have a frozen lasagna in the freezer why don’t you all come over for dinner”? Again, they looked shocked but pretty quickly accepted the invitation and I left my shovel, and went in turned on the oven, and we had a snowed in party.
Bob: Now, didn’t you have to spend the rest of the afternoon getting the house straightened up and in order for the…
Nan: No, I told them it was a come as you are party. Leave your boots at the door and just come with your snow clothes.
Bob: But, you know there are some women who are listening who are thinking I could not just at the drop of a hat invite the neighbors over because our house is a mess.
Dennis: Well, there are some guys who are more nit picky about how the house looks.
Bob: That may be – that’s right! So, do we just need to get over that, or need to keep our houses ready on a moments notice? What do we do if we live comfortably but we’re not comfortable with everybody else coming and see how comfortably we live?
Nan: Well, it’s a little bit of both. In my book I give a lot of practical hints on how you can you know live in a little more organized way and be ready for walk-in guests. But, no when you go running around like a chicken with your head cut off before your guests arrive they can tell that – you’re uptight you know, you’re not relaxed and they come in…
Dennis: Are you telling me that my neighbors who came over on another occasion knew that I had been vacuuming frantically?
Bob: They could see it on your face!
Nan: They probably saw the vacuum marks in the carpet Dennis.
Dennis: Well, they actually saw me putting the vacuum cleaner away because this was right up to the brink of the whole deal. Now, I’m giving our listeners kind of a bad opinion of my wife Barbara, she keeps a good house okay?
Nan: No, but you’re touching on something that’s really important. Hospitality is not just for the woman to do, men need to be involved, and I couldn’t do half of what I do if it weren’t for my husband’s help.
Bob: We ought to make it clear here at the outset that when we’re talking about entertaining and hospitality your whole objective here is to really embrace what the Bible sets up as a spiritual calling, and to help people understand this is a part of our evangelizing and discipling of the people God’s put in our path right?
Nan: Exactly. We wonder how this little band of Christian’s turned The Roman Empire upside down. It was in small groups in homes. They were kicked out of the synagogue, they didn’t have the mega church with all of its programs and slick things to invite your friends to – they only had their homes, and they used them. People marveled at their love for one another, and how they shared and cared, and that’s what turned Rome upside down.
Bob: You know you said that it was your mother-in-law who really modeled this for you, that it wasn’t something you saw in your own home but again I’m just thinking you just seem like one of those kind of people – one of those hospitable, outgoing, engaging, relational kinds of people. Yet, when you first got married you didn’t have a house to invite people over to did you?
Nan: Oh no, I didn’t. No we came on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and lived in a little one bedroom apartment over near The University of Maryland and we would drive to campus past what I would call these little cracker box houses. They’re little starter houses. I said to my husband, “I don’t want to raise my kids in an apartment, I want a home – I want to be able to have a swing set, and a puppy, and whatnot.” And, I can still see him driving to The University of Maryland – he says, “As long as we’re in Christian work we’ll never own a home.”
I was learning about answered prayer, and one of the qualities of answered prayer is faith, and that we have to believe God for something. So, I said, “Well, I’m going to start praying and asking God to give me a home.” And he had that look on his face “Well, I don’t think it will ever happen as long as we’re on staff” – you know!
So, I just did a shut up and pray deal with the Lord, and I told Him if you give me a home I’ll give it back to you, and I’ll fill it with your people and I’ll use it for you. So about three years later we were at The University of Buffalo at that time God miraculously provided that first little home.
We had college students in it the day we moved in, and I found out later the neighbors thought it was a hippie commune. I’ve kept my part of the deal and God’s kept His part of the deal. Every time He ups the ante I have more people in. Now the kids are gone – we’re empty nesters and I tell my friends – I told the gals last night at FamilyLife we keep the sheets on the bed just give us a call, and you can spend the night.
Bob: So, if I were to come by your house and just drop in on any given evening is it likely there’d be somebody over there?
Dennis: Really you do that much entertaining?
Nan: We have our nights off.
Bob: But, most of the time you’re on duty you are engaging folks. By the way we’ll be offering the McCullough’s phone number and address at the end of today’s program…
Dennis: That’s right you know there’s some really… Smithsonian, Air and Space Museum, I mean…
Bob: We can get you fixed up – you’ll have all the hospitality…
Nan: I’m doing fine on my own – thanks Bob!
Dennis: It truly is a Bed and Breakfast. It’s a great location. Haven’t been there myself but I’m sure it’s quality accommodations. You know I’m just picturing a listener right now maybe a young mom who’s starting out her married life together or a couple as they’re thinking about hospitality – they’ve been burdened by this, they want to do more of it. Give us just one, two, three tips just about where you should start, how you should engage around this if you want to get started in becoming a little more self-motivated around hospitality?
Nan: Well, it’s mainly your attitude, and your approach to the home. Is it a trophy or is it a tool? Are you available to be used by the Lord? I’ll tell you a story about riding over here with one of the gal’s that works at FamilyLife.
She said, “Nan I didn’t tell you this but when I first came to Little Rock I came because my boyfriend wanted me to come here. I got here he broke up with me and I had no job. I was rooming in some rooming house, and I didn’t have any money. I was walking around the mall, and I ran into somebody I’d met through a friend of a friend from another state, and I said, “Hi, do you remember me”? The gal said, “I’m not so sure.”Then they talked a minute and she said, “Oh yes, I remember you.”
The woman invited her over for dinner. Now, this gal did not know the Lord. This was a totally secular person and this Christian in the mall who had only met her once casually through a friend of a friend invited her over for dinner. Well, that spoke volumes. She went over and she said, “It was a young couple with a little baby. They were just getting started. The house was a mess and they did not have a lot of things but they just loved on her.”
Then at the end of the evening they said, “Would you go to church with us”? She went to church with them, and the long story made short gave her life to the Lord, and is now in full-time Christian work with FamilyLife, and it started with you know…
Bob: With hospitality!
Nan: Yes, and a simple hospitality. Now, the book has a lot of how-to’s for young women to help them get their ducks in a row but it’s the heart attitude – you have to want to! You have to want to be available to be used of the Lord. I’m telling you, you’re going to be blessed way more by the people that come into your home than they’re even going to be blessed by you.
Dennis: I want to go back to my neighbors that we invited over for dinner. I decided not just because I interview people for a living here on FamilyLife Today but I decided we’d find out their story over dinner. So, I fixed them my famous blackened salmon, had a little asparagus off to the side, nice little French bread. Bob’s nodding his head because we’re talking his turkey now.
Bob: It’s good stuff!
Dennis: It’s good stuff! I have a couple of meals – not many but I have a couple that I can do that, and so I prepared that for our neighbors. Then I began to ask them to unpack the story of their lives, and you know they have a really interesting background. By the time we finished the evening it was like a lot of things are explained here. They are who they are because of where they’ve come from, what they’ve experienced, who they are as individuals today. It really helped us to develop a relationship with them. I’ve sensed a real fresh warmness in terms from a neighboring standpoint just saying hi to them.
Nan: Because you listened – you cared!
Dennis: Yes, and I mean we didn’t tell our story but we heard theirs.
Nan: No, you don’t want to tell your story to start with – you want to listen, listen, listen, and they’re going to say—the people around your dinner table or whatever - you’re doing a cup of tea at the kitchen counter – they’re going to say some outrageous things they believe. Don’t correct them. Listen, just let them dump it all out, and go home, and pray about it and then you know what’s happening as they’re driving home they’re thinking gee that was weird what I said to her but she really cared. Then they start thinking why I did all the talking I don’t know what she believes? The next time she’s over for a cup of coffee she’s going to say now what about you, what do you believe?
Bob: So, don’t fix them the first night!
Nan: No, no, no!
Bob: Yes – yes! You know I think for a lot of folks there’s just an intimidation factor. We just lack confidence when it comes to what we’ve been talking about here. That’s why I think what you’ve done in your book is to provide some real confidence boosting for a lot of women.
The book is called: Entertaining for Eternity With Heavenly Hospitality, and it’s a beautiful book. It’s four color on every page, there are recipes in the back of the book that you can throw together quickly if you have folks coming over, and I noticed that you received an endorsement for your book from the former first lady of Arkansas Janet Huckabee who said that she’s watched you guide first ladies through the wonderful world of entertaining at some of the events that you’ve done for the Governor’s wives in Washington, D.C.
If our listeners are interested in seeing a copy of the book they can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and you can order the book from us on-line too. Again the website FamilyLifeToday.com – you can also call 1-800-FLTODAY.
This is a book that will give you some creative ideas and some positive encouragement for engaging in this spiritual mission. I think you’ll find it’s a whole lot of fun in the process. Again the title of the book Entertaining for Eternity With Heavenly Hospitality. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about how to order or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329 – 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life”, and then the word TODAY.
And quickly let me remind you what Dennis shared at the beginning of today’s program. We have a matching gift opportunity that has been made available to us here during the month of May, and we are hoping that if you’re a regular FamilyLife Today listener – if you tune in two or three times a week, or maybe it’s just two or three times a month we’re hoping that if the program is making a difference in your life, and in your marriage you will consider making a donation this month to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. If you do, that donation is going to be doubled on a dollar for dollar basis up to a total of now more than $300,000 dollars that has been given to our matching gift fund from friends of the ministry.
So, can we ask you to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation on-line or to call 1-800-FL-TODAY. When you do your donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar. We hope to take full advantage of this special matching gift fund we’ve received this month – to do that we need to hear from you. Again our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, and to help us take advantage of this matching gift.
Now, we hope you’ll be back with us tomorrow when Nan McCullough’s going to join us again, and we’re going to talk more about how we can open our hearts, and our homes with hospitality, and see how God uses that in people’s lives. I hope you’ll be here for that!
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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