23 Oct Open Home
“House Quarantine” “Do not come out of the house” “Do not visit anybody’s house” – familiar words in this time of Covid. But we consider the Open Home, a wonderful channel in God’s ministry.
What is an Open Home?
UESI was born in the living room of Prof. Enoch. It grew in the Open Homes of the graduates and staff across the country, to evangelize, and mentor. Prof. Enoch once said “We have thousands of children.” That was the result of the sacrifices he and his wife made to nurture students, graduates and the staff in their open home.
Values to learn from the history
Dr. Devapaul in REC (NIT), Warangal, wanted to keep his home open for students. He told his wife, “I will bring the students. You feed them. That is enough.” Hundreds came to Christ including Prof. Michael Kumar. Now his home near Karunya University is an open for students and have even week-end camps.
Prof. SPR Ebenezer from Chennai ICEU chose to teach in Virudhunagar. He and Bro. Rajasingh Warrior opened their homes for students. More than 30 full time workers and many EGF and Church leaders have come out including the staff of UESI: R Billy, Athma Soruban, Arul Manohar, Christopher, and P. Jebaraj.
During our 5 years ministry in Odisha, God brought at least 10 full time ministers. A senior experienced Odiya graduate recollected how they came for the ministry – “You brought those boys, kept them to stay in your house for days and weeks and fed them. That is the cause for them to come for the ministry.” One leader moved to a Metro City rented a small house to avoid people coming and staying. The Covid reveals the “temporariness” of our properties and wealth. Are we willing to sacrifice our belongings for eternal purposes?
Functions of an Open Home
- An Oasis: A “Home away from home” for hostel students. Freshers face fears of a strange place, ragging, different food, etc. Inviting them home for a cup of tea with the family will help to get over the “home sickness”.
One Christmas we had 9 students, (26 another year). We all worked, cooked and ate together. During informal sharing, a Buddhist medical intern from Bhutan said he was fully convinced about the love of Christ that day and committed himself to Christ. He as an orphan grew up in hostels all his life, That was the first day in all his life he had entered a house and shared a meal with a family. Love showered on him won him for Christ.
Once a medical student called up to meet my wife Sasi. A heavy load of work was pending after the UESI Golden Jubilee. Yet Sasi asked her to come, sat and talked for 8 hours. She had a relationship problem and had decided to commit suicide. She fixed everything and put her head into the noose, lifted one leg. There was pain and fear. Then she made the call. If we would have said we are busy, it would have come in the news that a medical student committed suicide. An Oasis indeed.
2. Evangelism Base: An Open Home is a place where a staff worker or graduate stays and meets the students to evangelize. Old EU Hand Book tells the graduates to provide “Bed and Breakfast”. In “Old Days”, there was no luxury of phones, bikes and cars. Staff and graduates used to visit unreached cities, stay in the homes of the graduates and pioneer the EU ministry. The Lord opened Lydia’s heart. She opened her home as a base for Evangelism for many days – “come to my house and stay.” Acts 16:14,15, 18,40.
Bro. Sathkeerthi Rao, a pioneering staff of UESI was later with other Missions. He said, ”They stay in star hotels. To sleep on a mat on the floor of a graduate’s home is more enjoyable than the star hotels.” I have stayed in the homes of many graduates across the country and with students in hostels. In my 35 years of service as a UESI staff, only one day I have stayed in a lodge in a pioneering place.
3. For Dialogue: The two disciples of John asked, “Teacher, where do you stay?”. Jesus did not give his visiting card or fix an appointment. He just said, “Come and see”. No dirty thing to be swept below the carpet or a secret channel or site to be changed in the TV or laptop. His life was transparent. Without prior appointment, Jesus allowed them to stay with Him. Maybe they had a good spiritual discussion. They recognized the Messiah – John 1:35-42. Nicodemus came at the night to meet Jesus – John 3;1-21; 19:39. Jesus taught him about New Birth. In an Open Home we can explain the Gospel to a seeker, solve his doubts and lead him to Christ.
Paul was under house arrest in Rome. Instead of worrying, he had an Open Home. Acts has an open ending: “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Acts 20:30,31. At home there is no opposition for ministry.
4. For Edification: Apollos was a talented teacher but did not know Jesus. Aquila and Priscilla Invited him to their home and explained the Gospel. He became a great resource person – Acts 18;24-28. At home we can guide people for maturity.
5. Meeting place: Aquila and Priscilla had Home Church in Rome, Ephesus and Corinth. They had Paul at their home for work and evangelism. Acts 18;1-3; Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor.16:19. When Peter was arrested, Christians had an All Night Prayer in the house of Mark – Acts 12:12. In these Lock Down days we have worship and meetings online. On normal days students and graduates find it difficult to find a place for EU and EGF meetings. Can we open our homes? The fellowship atmosphere is great in a house than in a common place.
6. Leadership Development: Jesus gave quality time to the Apostles who were pillars of the Church. As an itinerant preacher, Paul mentored and brought up Spiritual children as leaders – 2 Tim 2:2; 1 Tim.1:1,2; 2 Tim. 1:1,2; 2:1; Titus 1:1; Phil.10. Prof. Enoch’s home was open for staff Bro. Chandapilla, Bro. PC Varghese, Bro. Sathkeerthi Rao and Bro. Arthur Hope. They in turn have mentored and produced hundreds of leaders for the EU, Church and the Society. Now it is our turn.
7. Rest and Refreshment: Paul’s team stayed in the house of Philip. His family which was co-operative took care of Paul’s team for many days and provided for all their needs of the long journey. Acts 21:8-10,15. Full time workers have annual holidays. But they don’t know where to go as not many, including their relatives are not willing to receive them. If we offer stay and food for a few days, that will help the missionary for a family vacation. Hospitality is a Qualification for leadership – 1 Tim 3:2;5:10; Titus 1:8
Blessings to have an Open Home:
- It is our privilege to have Open Homes for evangelism and mentoring.
- We get closer fellowship with believers than just meeting them.
- Children get many brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties. It helps them to know Christ and to grow in Him. A speaker stayed with ‘Wesleys’ led John Wesley to Christ.
- Children get adjusted to accommodate people in their home. This helps in character building.
- Seeing the parents spending for the people, the children begin to enjoy giving.
- As we pray with the guests our spiritual life gets strengthened.
- We see the blessings of the Lord like Obed-Edom – 2 Sam 6:11,12.
- On the lighter side, having meetings or guests to stay helps us to keep the house clean, neat and tidy all the time.
Problems of an Open Home:
1. The privacy can be affected.
Plan for the “spaces” for the family and for the guests.
2. If both the spouses work, they can’t give the needed time for the visitors.
Proper discussion between the couple can solve the problem.
3. It can affect the children’s studies. Syllabus now is too much which needs parents help.
Discussion with the children, one spouse giving time or arranging someone to coach will help.
4. Girls can face the risk of sexual abuse by the visitors.
Proper orientation for girls about the possible advancement of any men and to inform the mother immediately.
5. Some guests can exploit the host by undue demand of time, food and other privileges.
If this gets repeated, prayerfully explain to the guest the cost paid by the host.
6. If one spouse is not from EU background, he or she may not understand the fellowship.
Discuss all details together before allowing a guest or giving place for a meeting.
7. Entertaining many guests can affect the finances.
A budget has to be made. The food menu can be simple to suit our budget.
“A man with a small house has a big heart. One with a big house has a small heart.”
“God gave because of love. So we give. John 3:16; 1 John 3:16 ”
“You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.”
We enjoyed the hospitality of our seniors to find Christ, and to grow in Him. In return we have to give the same hospitality to the next generation to nurture them leaders.
P. Jebaraj & Sasi Jebaraj are UESI Field Partners living in Chennai after retiring from UESI as Staff workers. They are blessed with three married daughters.