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3 Stars Out Of 5
Challenging in more ways than one
October 10, 2014
Have you ever read Jesus words I was a stranger and you welcomed and been a little nervous?
What does it mean to welcome the stranger?
How far should a Christian go to show love like Christ?
In Strangers At My Door, by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, we have several examples of someone putting their own life at risk to serve others. If that doesnt give you a little chill, make you feel just a little inadequate, I dont know what will. When I say feel inadequate Im only talking about feelings; do not read that statement as Jesus wont love me/bless me/save me if I dont do the same things that guy did.
Hartgrove and his wife bought a house in North Carolina in an area where they would be a minority; in other words, they were white and majority of the neighborhood was black. Their purpose was to, quite literally, welcome strangers into their home and love them like Jesus would love them. Over the years their door has been open to the homeless, the recently paroled, the poor, the widow, the addict, and in a couple cases the not-so-mentally-stable.
Guests did have to follow some basic rules as they tried to give them a solid foundation; Guests had chores, they prayed together, they ate together, and they were always welcome to join them at church. Many guests became life long friends and started new lives leaving behind what dragged them into the gutter. Other guests were never heard from again. A few guests were asked to leave. In every case, Hartgrove believes that he learned something about Jesus.
In all, its an amazing experiment and if you get nothing else from this book you should get this; it can be done. It is possible to give of yourself to an extent that seems outright dangerous and accomplish something significant in someones life. This isnt even new to Christianity. In the first centuries of the church when Rome still ruled the world the Christians were known for helping others at their own personal risk. It can still be done and its still needed.
With this particular book there are just a couple things that cause concern. I say that with some hesitation because these people are doing ministry that is needed and they are helping people. I dont want to be the bad guy here, but good works do not eliminate the need for good gospel.
Hartgrove is, by his own admission, a red letter Christian. This movement teaches that the red letters are the important words because they are the words of Jesus. In reality, the entire Bible is Gods Word and every word in it are the words of Jesus. Giving this starting point youd think that the most important thing Jesus called us to do was to help the poor. This is an important task and Christians are called to do that, but the most important thing we are called to do is bring people to Jesus so that they will repent and be saved.
Thankfully, simply taking the book at face value, it is not a theology book. It is, in some respects, like David Platts Radical. There is an intent here to describe a single facet of the Christian faith; help those in need. To that end Hartgrove offers some moving and inspiring stories that are well worth the read.
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
Strangers At My Door by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrover is a very very powerful book about the man, his wife, and the people they have helped in their life. They have taken the bible verse from Matthew 25:35 "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in" to heart and is doing exactly what it says. They did not care if the person was homeless, what race they were, if they had just gotten out of jail or disabled they helped them.
I have to admit I went into reading this book with skepticism but after reading it touched me and reminded of what Jesus tells us to do. We are to give the gospel to whoever is out there not just those who look good or are nice to us but to everyone. We are to even pray for our enemies. This wonderful couple has taken in the homeless, criminals, and anyone who comes to their door needing help even if people are worried about their lives. I really don't want to give away any of the stories they have told and they all do not turn out peaches and cream.
I am all about Christian books that talk about stepping out of ones comfort zone and radically following the Lord, and this book was one of the best! Jonathan Wilson- Hartgrove not only wanted to read his scriptures, but he and his wife wanted to live out the scriptures so they decided to open their home to anyone who came knocking, what followed was an exciting journey full of many unexpected turns, some sorrow, but most importantly full of joy as Jonathan and his wife answer the call and seek to reach out to those around them in need.
This book was wonderful and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to be encouraged and challenged by the saying of Jesus "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" and the results that followed.