Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Summary of first three years:
Since opening the hospitality homes to families of sick patients, on November 27, 2018, KBC has served more than 18 families, (68 people). These two homes, located in the back parking lot of the church, provide free lodging for families who are dealing with difficult medical needs. These families have come from 9 foreign countries and 6 different states with a variety of diagnosis, including, scoliosis, pre-mature birth, heart transplants, bone marrow transplant, bi-lateral hip displacement, club foot, and more. Working alongside organizations like, The World Pediatric Project (WPP), Social workers from Children’s Hospital, Cardinal Glennon (SLU), Mercy, and Shriner’s Hospital, our hospitality team has provided a warm and loving environment designed to provide peace and rest in the midst of stressful times.
A few stories:
Our first guests were Luis, age 11 years old and his mother Brenda. They came to us on a chilly November day from the warm climate of Guatemala. The family: bilingual, were prepared to dress warmly, because they had been making this trip every 6 months for the past 6 years. Luis had been born with severe scoliosis, and it required multiple surgeries as he grew to maturity. It was a pleasure to work together with this family over the years. Natalia, the social worker from WPP, mentioned they were one of their “best families.” The family had a stellar reputation for leaving the house spotless and clean, wherever they stayed. This was important to us since we were starting a new project and want to have our guests appreciate their temporary home. They did not disappoint!
This was prior to the pandemic. We opened our home with personal greetings, hot tea and fresh baked banana nut bread. We were able to show them personally the new quarters, go over the guidelines of the contract, and encourage them to call if problems/ questions arose. A cell number was given to Brenda, and after a short visit we said: “enjoy your new home, get some rest” We encouraged them to call if they had any questions/problems. Sure enough, there was a call one evening about how to regulate the oven when baking. The message went out for help and someone went to the house to adjust the temperature so Luis’ Mac & Cheese could finish baking. The oven was a challenge for the Brenda, because she was bilingual, but the problem was corrected quickly with some instructions.
As a result of that encounter we were able to design a guest “Welcome Booklet” in both English and Spanish, thanks to another church member, who teaches foreign languages in High school.
A second family came to us via Indiana, a lovely family of 5. Diagnosed at birth with “Sickle Cell” their two adopted twins would eventually need a bone marrow transplant. The bone marrow transplants were successful with one twin, but not with the second. It would be over four years, before their second child successfully received a second bone marrow transplant in St. Louis.
These parents were exceptionally gifted to care for this child and brought great joy to our community as we served them. We learned the children loved fire trucks and police work, so we brought them puzzles and cookies and all kinds of books and games to keep them able to continue learning since they were out of school for this period. This family remains in contact with us and thankfully they were able to return home safely prior to COVID- 19.
Why did I get involved in this ministry?
After 40 years in Social Work, I was not ready to retire. I loved my work but preferred to exchange 40 hours for part time. I had read about L’Abri, (house of Peace) in Eastern Europe started for weary strugglers in the faith as a place of Rest and Peace. A book by Francis Schaeffer outlined the services available to weary clergy and laypersons. I took up the mission working with the deacons and CLC to fashion our two houses into something like this. When a former minister, talked to the chaplain at Children’s Hospital, she suggested the ministry to families of their patients. An idea similar to the Ron McDonald House and Little Haven emerged. And although there was some hesitation, the church decided to “run with It”. That was in 2018. I asked to work on the committee to help get started and was given the opportunity. Three years later, it truly has been a wise decision and wonderful opportunity to do something so creative and new! This has been a blessing.
How does this ministry intersect with the over-all KBC ministry?
We have been encouraged to read the book: A Church Called TOV, by Scot McKnight & Laura Barringer, by our pastor. The book tries to envision how to create a church culture rooted in the “Goodness of God”. I see several connections between the qualities mentioned in the book and our ministry with the Hospitality Houses.
“Put people First” is important in this ministry. “Treating others as siblings,” compelled our team to care for the family that stayed with us one year, due to the pandemic. Even though they could not celebrate Christmas with their family back in St. Lucia, our hospitality team celebrated them. Our team provided food gifts to share with their family back in St Lucia. The team enabled our guests to enjoy a Christmas dinner with a selection of fish on the menu, donated by a church member. We partnered with another church, Harrison Ave Missionary Baptist Church, to attend their outdoor worship and engaged two of their member to take our guest fishing at Kirkwood Park. Our team celebrated his 18th birthday with balloons, cake and tiny presents and even took the family to lunch in the park, where we could share our concerns and pray for one another. The final testimony to sharing TOV is when two members of our team stepped up to the plate and took the guest to the airport at 3:00AM with all their suitcases.
Jesus compassion compels us (according to the authors TOV) to “meet around the table” “ share your stories”, “ ask for forgiveness” and move forward without fear, to care for one another, protect one another, trust one another , believe one another and LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, SEEING THE GOOD /BAD, LOVE ANYWAY. AND Jesus healed, cleansed, taught, and cared for the forgotten and disparaged among us. Jesus fitted us with gifts that bless others, and empower others to be their best serving others. So whether its finding a rocking chair for a grandmother to rock her infants, in the Hospitality house, or bringing a meal to meet the needs of a family with a pre-mature infant. We move ahead to make things happen.
This is a situation as TOV states “Ordinary people, doing ordinary”/yet vital things for others. We are chains in a link that bring the kingdom of God to earth. And not even remembering we did it. This is not a glamorous job, often it takes “elbow grease” to rub out the scratches on a good piece of furniture, or repairing a broken chair, measuring and installing a new appliance, or TV mount. Some of our work is very mundane: changing sheets, doing laundry, scrubbing spilled nail polish, or fixing a broken window pane, sorting donated items, arranging for the plumbing and a new roof or air conditioning& heating unit, and pitching spoiled and outdated items of food. In addition to these practical needs of the Hospitality Home Ministry, is the need for those whom God has gifted technologically speaking, who know how to write a blog, to set up a website, to fashion a Webinar, and keep others informed about what KBC is doing. Also, the generous support financially makes our ministry available for free to those in need. This is, to my knowledge, is something no other hospitality house does.
It has been a blessing for me to care for other through the Hospitality Homes. Our core volunteer team spends countless hours preparing the homes for guest arrivals, meeting their needs while they are in town, and continuing to pray for them after they have moved on. This ministry would not be possible without a community that surrounds it. What drives this ministry is God’s love for the Poor, the sick and those whose children are unable to find surgeries/treatments in their own homes. Our motto is fashioned from the words of Jesus;
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28.
Whether you are interested in getting involved or simply pray for the families that stay in our homes, I hope that you will join us as we care for others through this special ministry.