Our brother was asked to write this article since he and his wife, for many years, have been highly esteemed for the care they have shown young believers.
My wife and I have had the great privilege over many years of opening our home to many young believers away from home attending the nearby university. At the outset I pay tribute to my wife who has had the major part of the work involved in providing hospitality and without whom it would have been impossible.
These young believers have come to us at a most critical time in their lives, having just left home and finding themselves in what is often a most ungodly and unsympathetic environment.
We are aware of how short we must fall in our imperfect service, but the following thoughts are set forth as expressing the desires of our heart in this small service for the Master.
1. As unto Him – Matthew 25:40
This verse refers of course to the future, but the principle applies – He takes it personally how we treat those whom He calls His brethren. In seeking to care for young believers, this is the first and all-important motive: to see Christ in each of them and love them for His sake.
2. Gratitude for past experiences of God’s care – 2 Corinthians 1:3
As a young believer not long in assembly fellowship, I was called up for National Service. No matter where I was sent in those two years, there was always an assembly nearby and homes which were open to me. This was a testimony in itself to the ungodly fellows I was with; they could not understand how this fellow had such good friends everywhere we went! I have never forgotten the love and care shown by these humble believers and thank God for His preservation during what could have been very difficult days. We are grateful also for the care shown to our own children when away from home and our prayer is that if the Lord be not come our grandchildren will be similarly preserved.
Many a tear has been shed in our home, but we trust that young hearts have been strengthened and sent back to face another difficult week with firmer tread and the knowledge that there is a home open to them and hearts that beat in sympathy with their own as they seek to live for God. The courage of some of them has been truly remarkable and a testimony to the sincerity of their faith. It is very important that the young people know that confidences will be respected and not become subjects for gossip. The home should also be a place where they can bring others whom they have contacted and may be trying to help spiritually.
3. Continuation of the testimony – 2 Timothy 2:2
Again, if the Lord be not come, the future growth and maintenance of God’s assemblies rest upon these young believers. To see many of them progress spiritually and begin taking part in the gatherings of the Lord’s people has given us great joy. Some, it is true, have dropped away, but it is our privilege and responsibility to continue to pray for them. One young man was committed to our care by his anxious parents who said he was a believer but not baptized. They hoped he would attend the meetings. It was our joy to baptize him in his second year, and before he moved on at the end of his third year he was preaching in the open air, to the astonishment of his parents when they heard! He is now a pillar in the small assembly where he resides. Another young man was defending his round of social activities as a means of contacting and befriending other students. He was gently reminded that there was no greater friend of sinners than the Lord Jesus, but He would never have been mistaken for one!
4. Lasting and precious friendships
Lasting and precious friendships have been forged which are surely a foretaste of that fellowship we will enjoy when He calls us to share his eternal home.
As the days darken, may we encourage older believers to feel their responsibility toward those whom the Lord may send into their area. Or there may be young people locally from non-Christian homes who need encouragement, advice, instruction, and even shelter sometimes. The rewards down here are immense, some of which we have briefly mentioned – but we know that there is One looking on who weighs the motives of our hearts and who will reward even that cup of water given in His Name (Mark 9:41). We feel the unworthiness of much that we seek to do, but trust that somewhere in the heap of ashes at the judgment seat there will be just a gleam of gold, a flash of silver, or a glittering gem – something that was done for Him.