Arriving into Singapore some years ago, we were met at the airport by Bob Howder. We had not met previously, but had corresponded. “Where are we staying?” I asked as we drove away. Bob responded, “You’ll be with Norm & Louise Barnhart.” I thought, Norm & Louise Barnhart. Okay. Don’t know them but we will get acquainted.
We got to their place – a multi-story apartment building – and carried our luggage upstairs. When it was obvious that no one was home, I asked, “Where are Norm & Louise?” Bob said, “They are in the States. Be here in a few days.”
So we were in Singapore! Alone! Trusted with the possessions of a missionary couple we had never met. We had the run of this man’s home. Fully trusted by people we had never met. Alone in their home for some days. What trust!
Those who stay in the United States miss the camaraderie of the Missionary Orientation. Once outside the safe, wealthy, secure borders of America, something grand emerges within the church universal. The Missionary Orientation kicks in: “We are presenting Christ. We are together in being responsible for the reputation of Jesus Christ worldwide. We belong to each other. Partners. If my kids are at your house, they eat on you. If you need to go someplace, you can drive my car (as soon as I leave the field, you will probably buy it at a great price). We have room in our home for your overflow guests. If I own it, you can use it.” And there’s also an all for one, one for all attitude about things – like cars and houses and babysitting. Missionary kids grow up with a lot of “aunts” and “uncles.”
Norm and Louise were grand hosts when we finally met them. We benefited from Missionary Orientation.
In late February of 2021 and 2022, Jon & Beth Michael of Newberry, Michigan, (pictured above on the right) were going to Florida to care for her parents and some rest and recreation. They needed someone to fill the pulpit. Having met them once, and upon the recommendation of a friend, I got the nod (trusted again).
Newberry is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. “Yoopers” love it. We loved the hospitality of the Michaels and their church. Jon & Beth said, “Eat whatever you find in the fridge, freezer or pantry.” Since they were prepared for a famine, we had a lot of choices. Church people brought more to an already well-stocked fridge and invited us to eat out on them. Pastor John said, “Enjoy the fireplace” – lots of wood in a storage area attached to the house.
Once again, we were left alone in another couples’ home. Total trust. We enjoyed the relationship. It has been as warming to know Jon and Beth as their fireplace.
Being trusted is so affirming. So calling-us-to-be-at-our best. So valued in a world where trust is rare. So totallyendorsing. The Barnharts and the Michaels were endorsing us, putting confidence in us, nourishing us with their trust.
Having others set this pattern for us, last summer (July, August, 2021), we invited a couple, their daughter and her three children (husband had to work) to stay in our home. Having recently moved from greater Detroit to the west side near Lake Michigan, we had something they wanted (the beach and lake). They had something we wanted (to see friends in our former church). We stayed in their home.
Trust builds people. Trust endorses people. Trust draws forth the best in people. Trust and swap houses.
Whether it is an ex-con, hiring a teen for their first job, or allowing something that has not been previously allowed – trust builds.
Yes, you could get burned. One thinks of the famous line spoken to the apprehended thief Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, “Jean, you forgot the candlesticks.” Yes, you may get taken. But Pastor Jon Michael said, “If someone takes something, maybe they needed it more than I did.”