By Kimberly Prins Moeller
Shortly before Emily (Director of Expect Hope) became engaged to my brother Ryan, they had a late evening appointment in New Jersey and anticipated being finished well past midnight. Unsure of how her future in-laws might feel about a middle-of-the-night houseguest, Emily asked if she could stay with me. I was both delighted and apologetic; I loved having guests, but all I could offer Emily was an air mattress in our cramped living room. She assured me that would be just fine, and I happily arranged the bed, towels, a glass of water, and a friendly note before heading off to sleep that night. Emily didn’t get in until after 2 a.m. and had to be up only a few hours later to catch a bus back to work. Though her stay was quite short, Emily kindly gushed over how comfortable and welcome she felt, and to use her words, how I had “prepared a place” for her.
We’ve reminisced fondly about that little event since, and giggled when Emily brought it up to Ryan when he hogged the couch after spending the day moving their furniture up four flights of stairs (his weary response: “Emily, I’ve been preparing a place for you all day…”), but the idea of “preparing a place” feels remarkably appropriate as I consider the mission and impact of Expect Hope. Coincidentally, the Bible study I’m currently working through is on Biblical hospitality and the concept of Making Room (www.shereadstruth.com). The overview of the study describes hospitality as “a posture of charity toward the poor, of welcome toward the displaced, and of humility and gentleness toward the hurting.” Expect Hope’s mission to offer “a safe residence” and “essential social services” (www.expecthope.org) aligns precisely with this concept of hospitality, extending welcome, care, and love to those whom society forgets and often reviles. A place is being prepared for women and their children at a time when they are most vulnerable. Hospitality will be offered in its truest and most complete meaning, providing not just shelter and physical care, but emotional support and spiritual guidance, treating the whole person with love, dignity, and respect. The women and children who come through Expect Hope will emerge with the health, strength, and skills to build self-sustainable lives, as well as the deep soul-knowledge that they are loved by God and by others. Expect Hope makes room and prepares a place in vital life-changing ways.
To close, I offer a thought from a recent sermon by Fr. Tony Bleything of my home church, Christ Redeemer Anglican in Milwaukee: “In the Kingdom of God, citizens are welcomed by love, grace, and hospitality… What makes us “light” is our embrace, not our exclusion….” As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we have been offered the most loving and gracious hospitality, a welcome we have not deserved and a place we could never earn. As Expect Hope prepares a place for underserved mothers, I pray that we will remember how utterly we depend on the great and gracious hospitality of God and support this ministry with our prayers and means.