I had to laugh as I interviewed my friend Pat Portman about her hospitality lifestyle and experiences. You see, God has given Pat a heart for women and a deep love for building community; but Pat doesn’t enjoy cooking or cleaning up to have people in her home. Therefore, Pat is always “practicing hospitality.” She knows that God plans for His people to be givers, so she has no problem continuing to give out of her heart even though she does not feel that she has “the gift of hospitality.” She just loves people.
God gave Pat a heart for women, a desire for walking alongside women many years ago. Pat has empathy for women who are downtrodden, isolated, alone; and she wants to invite them into community.
Many years ago, Pat asked her husband Bob if they could begin to look for couples that they did not know so that they could invite them over for a meal. Typically they would stop and talk to a couple, schedule a time for them to come for a meal, and then schedule a few other couples so that they could all get to know one another. That, to them, was an opportunity to bring people together. One of the outcomes of these gatherings was a charge to their guests to do the same thing in their own homes.
Eventually, because the Portmans were not living near family, their hospitality turned more to inviting into their home those who were separated from others. Perhaps some of this ministry began during a period of trial for their own family when Pat longed for a woman to walk alongside their family. Pat became that woman for others.
Some final thoughts from Pat:
- Men are to be leaders, but women are to establish community.
- Women are nesters. They determine the culture of their home or the culture of their church.
- We must gather and build a community.
Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]. Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood – being friendly cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without know it.Hebrews 13:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
As I concluded my call with Pat, she had two more telephone appointments for the afternoon. She had spent her morning with a nurse she had become friends with several months ago. The nurse does not yet believe, but she and Pat are going through the book of Mark together. They had agreed on meeting without food, and Pat declined the nurse’s offer of a banana.