On Mission for a Lifetime of Hospitality

front door

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Bill and Peggy Call since they’ve been back at the Bible Church.  Here is their story of hospitality:

After receiving a clear call to ministry overseas, we joined the North Africa Mission in 1960. NAM became Arab World Ministries, and is today Pioneers) It’s stated goal was to see indigenous churches planted on North African soil. We lived in four countries: Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania over a span of forty years. During our 16 years in Algiers, (which was 100 years after NAM started their ministry there) we had the incredible privilege of watching God plant a strong self-sustaining church body in Algiers and in other cities. Today this movement has continued touching every department of the country.

We are in the US because we are a little bit elderly! We chose to live in Durham because in our retirement we wanted to serve internationals at Duke.

There is a Bible verse that I, as a child, accepted at face value: Be given to hospitality, because by doing so you may entertain an angel without realizing it. But I wondered why entertaining an angel would be a good thing. Would I ever know he or she was an angel? Did I need to know? One thing was sure I was to be hospitable.

Then as an adult I heard a Mennonite friend admonish, “We should all be able to say to those around us, ‘If you want to know who Jesus is, come to my house.’”Now that really struck me. I was again, at the very least, to be hospitable. Little by little the force of that conviction turned into reality. While living overseas we entertained many, many guests. Some were invited for a meal; some dropped in at meal time. There were months on end when we had a guest for at least one meal a day. Life was never boring. Once we were enjoying a couple of doctors from Morocco. While we were sitting at the table, I was surprised when one of them remarked, “Does your doorbell or telephone ring all of the time?”

  • There were the many young Algerian men who were foot loose and fancy free and arrived unannounced. I would just add an extra couple of eggs to boil, with more bread and soup.
  • There was the young woman who was being abused by her husband and had no family members to stay with. She stayed for months at a time.
  • There was the teenager whose brother wanted to force her into a marriage to an illiterate older man. We hired her as a live-in maid. That brother eventually became a friend and visited as well. She is now married to a wonderful man, who loves her with all his heart. She’s called us from Paris and still says she considers us her family.
  • There were myriads of young American hippies who were hitch hiking across North Africa ringing doorbells at addresses they picked up along the way. Most we had never seen before and never heard from again.
  • There was an American man from Chicago who stayed a few days and then sent us $20.00. What for? “To put more protein in your diet!” I was not aware that our diet was inadequate and I took that as bit of an insult. What he did not know was that the majority of people living around us only ate meat once a year. Here we lived on the Mediterranean and were unknowingly eating a “Mediterranean diet!”
  • I suppose the most consequential visits were of Americans who were attempting the impossible. Two arrived with trucks packed to the gills, one contained a disassembled helicopter, which he had constructed himself. He actually lived in the Congo and had figured that the cheapest way to get it from America to his home was to drive across the Sahara. We forgave him his ignorance of the Sahara as far more unforgiving than his jungle. But the State Police did not. They would not release it. Where was the second driver who was a mechanic? or the gerry cans for extra gasoline and water? .. etc He was an incredibly interesting man. We reveled in his stories: of being alone collecting greenery in the forest only to look up to see a lion watching him. He decided not to panic because he was downwind!  In the Congo he had responded to the frantic pleas for help from a small delegation of forest Pigmies. Even though he was not a doctor he successfully delivered a baby in breach position. He told us that just before leaving the US he had been invited into an operating room. It just so happened (of course by the hand of God) that he had witnessed the birth of a breach baby! The pygmies thanked him first by naming the baby David and secondly with the gift of a precious rat.
  • The second visitor with a loaded truck blocked in port was carrying a huge tent which his church in Texas had hand-sewn as a “gift for Africa.” I doubt that anyone involved realized that Africa is made up of over 50 countries. This man was a religious fanatic and a bit crazy. After housing him, feeding him, and listening to him he finally went back to Europe with his truck and I went to bed for week.
  • Others among the emotionally draining were the group of 4 American young people who were living in a cave near our apartment house. They had just arrived in Algiers and said they were Christians. I washed all of their laundry by hand in our bathtub and fed them from time to time. It took us a few weeks to realize they were not Christians at all, but followers of the very immoral sect called Moonies.
  • We had a young previously unknown American guest staying for several days in our guest room. One afternoon I answered the doorbell. Standing there was a tall very handsome young man who told me his name and why he was in Algiers. He had just graduated from Medical School in the US and was on his way back home to Palestine. Just then our guest stepped into the hall and yelled, “Imed!” An American running into a Palestinian friend in our home in Algiers! They had both had attended Urbana six months previously and had been assigned the same room. They had been roommates.

And the list continues. I don’t know if we ever fed an angel, but some of them brightened our life, encouraging us, stimulating us. There was the Brit who animated R2D2 in the movie Star Wars, and a group of students from Harvard and Yale who came and painted our conference house. One was headed to NASA as a space engineer.

Life here in the US? Dull by comparison. I force our guests, who make the mistake of lightly tapping on the door, to go back outside and ring the doorbell HARD. We’ve not heard it for weeks.