The Beauty of Third World Hospitality

Day 3 in the Philippines sees us riding upon a pedicab being escorted down the narrow streets of a community in a large wet marshland with ponds of water scattered about on either side. It is an area succumb to frequent flooding in the rainy season. Houses all around lie a foot deep in dirty slim water with tires and strips of wood to provide stepping stones into their homes. Clothes hang to dry over the water by thin strands of rope.

In one spot the entire road is covered with water with no passage through beyond a cement sledge border running the length of the road upon which people hobble along to reach their homes. Fishing (called milk fish) is the livelihood of the community along with pedicabs escorting people from here to there.

We come to a small wooden tin roofed house built upon two foot high stilts. Underneath lays a sludge of wet marsh. Outside their door is a pile of paper trash of receipts from which the children sort and recycle for supplementary income.

Upon entering the approximately 12 foot by 15 foot home, divided into three small rooms, we are warmly greeted by a vibrant mother and her three young children. There is no furniture besides a bunk bed, dresser and kitchen counter with one office chair for seating.

The father works insane hours as a driver in a distant village. He leaves at 4 o’clock in the early hours of the morning and often does not return till midnight or 1 am the next day. Yet they express thanks to have the extended family and help of neighbors living next door. They share community meals together.

Their home flooded in October of 2009 when a three foot high wave of water filled their home. They were completely stranded and slept upon the upper level of the dilapidated bunk-beds that the children slept upon. They simply had to wait it out. But in their struggle the expression on their faces is one of thankfulness. “We were blessed because we had milk fish swimming through out home that we were able to catch and eat.”

Mary Rose is the oldest daughter at fourteen who thrilled us with her love for singing earlier in the day. Her love for Jesus was clearly displayed on her countenance. She entered the Compassion Child Sponsorship program at age five and testifies of the impact it has made upon her life. She heard about Jesus and chose to give her life to Him. She can now dream. Medals and certificates cover the wall displaying the family pride in their daughter for her success in school and church. She dreams of becoming a teacher and loving on children in the way she was loved. She loves the exuberance of children and wants to help them. Even at the tender age of fourteen, she is already serving by teaching other children in her community through volunteer teaching in the Compassion program. She is a beautiful young lady rescued from her poverty and given an opportunity for a future, and she wants to pass on the gift she has received.

Throughout the duration of telling us their story, the smiles never leave their faces. They are so beautifully content. They thank us incessantly for coming to their home. They spent the day talking among their neighbors of how greatly they anticipated our arrival.

Yesterday, we visited another amazing family of 15 (extended family all living under one roof) cramped into a 250 square foot home. When we asked our host what she had been doing that day, she excited expressed, “Nothing really. We were just waiting for you to come. We were so excited for you to come.”

This family could offer us no more than a simple wood floor or old office chair to sit upon and yet they gave it so freely. They have nothing to give beyond their love and welcoming smiles. How can I ever again be intimidated by the thought of extending hospitality to others in my own home when I see such joyful love extended amidst such poverty? We reside in a culture with such abundance and yet we shrink back at the thought of the uncomfortable nature of opening our homes and lives to others. Here are families that greatly anticipate our arrival and thank us repeatedly for visiting their homes while I stand as one who stresses over the fear and details of welcoming in another.

Today I was loved upon in a way that I will never soon forget. Even in their poverty, they freely gave us their love. Isn’t that what true hospitality is all about? The simple extension of our hearts and hands to show the love of Christ to others? We might not have huge resources to give, and yet we all have a home, a heart, and hands to extent to others. Eight of us sat crowded around their floor but no one gave it second thought.

We have been given so many gifts. How can we pass on what we have without thought to size or substance?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

18 Responses to The Beauty of Third World Hospitality

  1. David August 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    I agree with marcy, the term “third-world” is extremely offensive, it just doesn’t sound right…it makes it sound like people who live in countries who may have less access to resources are from some other planet beneath the sun or something…

  2. Amy June 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    I think you struck a nerve with this post. I am currently in serious need of encouragement in this particular area of hospitality: letting people into my home. Part of my struggle is that I strongly feel that my home is my haven and it’s where I go to relax and “let my hair down” and shelter myself from the world…. The other struggle I am having is that I FINALLY took a step of faith and invited a non-family member into my home…only to have her actually comment later (in a room full of acquaintances) that she “doesn’t know how we live like that!”…going into excruciating detail about how old our house is etc. We were “renovating” our 1909 house…and still are because we are doing it ourselves on limited resources. ANYWAY, this only reinforced all the fears I had about inviting people over…and while my head knows it says a whole lot more about HER for making the comment, I still can’t get over the embarassment and fear of putting myself out there again! I get completely what you are saying…but here in the States, it really depends upon WHO you are letting in your door and their mindset!! Pray for me! Thanks.

  3. Marci June 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I get the spirit of this post – but I need to point something out. It is no longer politcally correct to call countries such as these “third world.” That terminology is long outdated (as in, not even when was in high school was that terminology considered correct…and I’m now 28). The term “third-world” is extremely offensive, for many reasons. I will not put a condensed version of all the problems with this term here, as that would not do this issue justice. But I would encouage any one who doesn’t know why this terminology is offensive to look it up in detail.

    Just remember: the people who use this term are often those who don’t live in such places. Historically, it has been those blessed to live in other regions that use this term about other places.

    I get the spirit of what you’re encouraging here – and your post truly is beautiful – but please be careful. This exactly the type of oversight that gets Christians branded as extremely insenstive to others and out of touch with what is going on in the world. Not every aspect of political correctness is something Christian’s should adopt….but I really do think that a term like “third world” is one we shouldn’t use.

    • Crissy June 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      @ Marci,
      I Googled the phrases “third-world country” and “is third-world offensive” and found the history of the term, but nothing stood out as insulting. By stating that a country is a “third-world” nation implies what…? Please elaborate.

      I think you are taking poltical correctness a bit too far. Your PC comments about third-world are as strange as stating that we must call the ninth grade class in school freshpeople as fresh”men” offends women.

  4. dad June 2, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Mission. It can happen in any context…. or status. Thanks lindsay. I am so proud of you..

  5. Robin Dance ~ PENSIEVE June 2, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    “They are so beautifully content.” It doesn’t make sense, does it? In the midst of their squalor, they find contentment. In unimaginable circumstances, they survive and live and love and offer all they have to others. Yes…it’s their generosity that strikes a blow to the heart.

    They give all they have…which is so Jesus-like of them :) .

    Thanks for sharing your words and experience; you’re moving mountains with them :) .

  6. Rebekah June 2, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    I’m loving your posts from the Philippines!

  7. FaithHopeLoveAndJesus June 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    What a heart-breaking, yet beautiful post. They share so freely of what little they have and so many of us here in America don’t share enough out of our abundance. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Heather Anderson June 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    This post brings tears to my eyes. How often do we hesitate to invite someone over because our homes aren’t clean enough or we can’t offer them a fancy meal? How often could we share our lives with others if we had even a little less pride?

  9. Amy June 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    “Nothing really. We were just waiting for you to come. We were so excited for you to come.”

    I absolutely love the hospitality of third world countries.

  10. Lin June 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Does Compassion share Christ with children even if they are NOT sponsored? I think sharing the gospel should not be tied to the sponsorship… ?

    • Lindsay June 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

      One of the beautiful aspects of Compassion is that all the programs take place within the local church. They strategically partner with local churches to carry out the work of the ministry in the community. In this way, everyone is certainly invited to the church where the gospel is shared, whether or not they are sponsored. There is no limitation there. The children in the program are not forced to believe either but as their physical needs are met they are far more open to the spiritual. And in like manner, the fruit in the family’s of sponsored children has often led to whole families being saved as they see the changes taking place in their homes and child.

      • Lin June 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

        Thanks for the reply Lindsay! I’m a new sponsor and was just wondering as the first benefit listed on the website is “they get to hear the gospel” ;)
        how cool, u are a doula.. heh. jus had my first kid

  11. Bethanie June 1, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    How true! I remember this from my trips to India and Mexico. Even in abject poverty these people give all they have. What a lesson in generosity, love, and selfless service! Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us! I’m enjoying EACH post!

  12. Jill Foley June 1, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    “She heard about Jesus and chose to give her life to Him. She can now dream.” – This is what I love about Compassion – this gift of Hope, the gift of Jesus!

  13. Tiffany June 1, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Beautiful. And so true. Hospitality has nothing to do with abundance, beautiful furniture and fancy food. The extension of our hearts and hands towards others and welcoming them into our homes, however small and barren, to show love and grace…that is real hospitality. Thank you for this post.

  14. Kim June 1, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    I really appreciated your emphasis on hospitality in this article. Very moving. We always worry that we won’t have enough or the right things to share with our guests. When really the love of Christ and ourselves is enough.

  15. Crystal June 1, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    It’s so true! I have experienced the same thing on some of my missions trips. It’s always so humbling. I’m really enjoying reading your posts — one of our Compassion girls is in the Philippines and I can’t wait to meet her someday!