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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Angels in disguise

The bible encourages us to bring guests into our homes by saying, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:2)

My family would tell me that we have never done that, not because we have never entertained guests, but because no angel would take the kind of disguises we have seen. In fact it may have required guardian angels to protect my family from some of the "guests" we have shown hospitality.

There was the guy who came for dinner and needed Maalox. You need to know that we made it a policy not to give money to transients. If they claimed to be hungry we invited them to dine with us. Raising 6 kids made it seem that one or two more at the table was not a big deal. Anyway, this guy needed Maalox before dinner (it wasn't because of our cooking). Barbara found a bottle in the cabinet and handed him the bottle while I got a spoon. But before anyone handed him the spoon, he put the bottle to him mouth, took a swig, and handed it back. "No, you go ahead and keep it. You might need some later."

Of course there was Kevin Johnson, a young black who was fresh out of prison and needed a temporary residence. He was so charming and lovable that our whole family enjoyed him. We even finagled a job for him, policing the traffic in a roller skating rink. He shocked the socks off us when he answered the phone, "Hello, Keller residence. House nigger speaking." He thought that was so funny that he made a routine of it, until we forbade him to answer the phone. Some time after he moved on, we heard that he fell to his addiction of car theft once again.

One guy pressured me for money so he could get a coat since he was going to be on the street. I gave him my heavy eastern overcoat, and we never heard from him again. We had recently moved to Modesto from Wilmington, Delaware, and I was rather certain I would never need that coat again.

Then there was the family who sent their barefoot kids into the church just after the benediction to ask money for groceries. I went to talk to the father out in the car, and found him watching TV which had been installed so he could watch from the driver seat! We didn't give him money, and he didn't want our hospitality.

Then there was the Cambodian refugee who was so grateful for our sponsorship that he pulled all the weeds from the yard. He left the dandelions, thinking they were flowers or food, I suppose. Needless to say our kids thought this was great. At the dining table he would stop me and insisted on serving everyone before he took any for himself. Maybe he was the angel.

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