The Feed

Stories of Feeding God's Children Hungry in Body & Spirit

Finding Hospitality in Social Distancing

Finding Hospitality in Social Distancing

This post is part of a series of reflections from Feed My Starving Children employees about what it is like to work at a faith-filled organization during a time of crisis. Matt Anderson is a Gift Service Specialist and has been with FMSC just over five months.

The world is going through a period unprecedented in our generation. In addition to bringing anxiety to a great number of people, the COVID-19 pandemic has much of the world on lockdown. During this time of social distancing, I have witnessed the unexpected rediscovery of an almost entirely lost art in our society: hospitality.

I know it sounds crazy, but amidst the self-quarantine, and near isolation for many people, hospitality is making a comeback. The biblical idea of hospitality welcomes the stranger, providing them food and shelter just like one of the family. Hospitality of this kind has been an uncommon virtue in America of late. After all, we’re really a pretty solitary bunch when you look at us. How many of us invite even our co-workers into our homes? Even if we do welcome someone in, is it into our home’s natural state, with all the flotsam and jetsam of the family – toys, coats, socks, underwear – strewn about? No, we spend hours making the house as spotless as a Magnolia Journal cover shot, and not for our guest’s comfort, but our own self-image.

Suddenly, as we now socialize from a distance, we are opening up our homes like never before: virtually. Work still must get done, meetings still have to happen, but all is being accomplished within the home; appointments and classes, even band and choir rehearsals are taking place by videoconferencing. In a true American symbol of the forming together as a family, we see our friends or co-workers in a Brady Bunch-style Zoom grid. At least once a day, our FMSC family invites us to sit together in their living rooms even as we invite them to sit in ours. In addition to regular meetings, we gather together for daily prayer and worship.

This hospitality extends beyond just virtual gatherings, though, to the true spirit of giving and caring for one another. I can’t count how many stories I’ve been told of needs being met (from food to toilet paper) or items being dropped off at people’s doors. It is the concern for others’ needs before one’s own that truly characterize this hospitality. Those around me at FMSC exemplify such caring – it’s what we’re about. While the chatter at other workplaces centers around what is going to happen to individual jobs and income, the worries I hear are about how are we going to keep serving our partners and get meals to hungry kids.

What has really inspired me during this time, however, is the attitude that is coming back from our partners and the kids they serve. While the uncertainty of disease and food shortages are new to us, it is a part of life for them, and far more significantly than what we are experiencing. They, knowing how foreign such uncertainty is to us, offer their prayers and encouragement to us. I can’t even express the gratitude I feel when faced with that level of concern. It is simply mind-blowing!

My wish for us all, both as we pass through this difficult time as well as when we emerge from it, is for us to heed the words of the apostle Peter, continuing to, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:9-11, ESV).

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