Everything I write, I try to write with complete honesty. Today I’m writing with blunt honesty and trepidation. Trepidation because my wife and I have opened the door to a future we had in no way anticipated in France. For one, we had not anticipated a war with Russia; and like most of the world, apart from the filthy rich, we are experiencing a personal cost to the war in Ukraine: with prices rising daily. And now Chris and I have added another, as yet, unknown cost: we have agreed to host refugees from Ukraine. They are on their way as I write this and are in Romania at the moment.
For their part, our guests (mother and daughter), are coming to live with complete strangers in a country where they do not speak the language. It’s reciprocal, as we have no real knowledge of them either. Chris and I ran a B&B for nearly three years before Covid shut it down, so we are used to having strangers in our home. We also took in refugees from a hurricane in 2018 and became fast friends with them…but it was only for a week. Hence my trepidation. Our guests might be with us months …or years.
Truthfully, I like my solitude. I enjoy our goats and hens more than most human beings. As a former prison chaplain, pastor and university teacher “I gave at the office.” But this war on Europe’s doorstep has blasted me out of my solitude. Ironically, three weeks ago I even contemplated going to the Ukraine to help or fight, but decided that a 70-year-old might be more of a hindrance than a help. But watching the ruthless assaults on civilians ignited, what a friend once described as, my “over-developed sense of fairplay.” I hate bullies. As a bookish lad, I suffered enough at their hands.
As so here I am, worrying about “What if they can’t sleep or have night terrors? They’ll be in the studio apartment over our heads.” “What if they won’t leave me alone?” (I am not alone in this, for my wife has similar concerns…I just have a need to express mine!) Happily, at this moment, money is not a major concern. We have been bowled over by the kind offers of friends in different countries. And yet…what the hell else are we meant to do? Jesus’ admonition to “welcome the stranger” rings round in my brain. And so Chris and I made the decision to offer hospitality without counting the cost. We are not special people or heroes, so please, no more comments like that on Facebook. We are doing what our God-given humanity has called us to do. And we might be asking some of you for your support.