By Leonard Sankey
My earliest memories of the traveling evangelists of another day are that they often traveled by train, or bus, and usually reeked of smoke as the “no smoking” movement had not yet taken effect. Then some of them began traveling their own vehicles, and some pulled trailers behind their cars or trucks. One evangelist even made a traveling home out of a semi-trailer. In the earlier years, the evangelist was most often given hospitality in the parsonage of the church they were serving, or once in a while in a parishioner’s home.
True, the field of evangelism has changed dramatically in the past 55 years. I do not think there are as many traveling evangelists as in previous years. And, it seems there are more of those evangelists who have their own motorhome, trailer, or fifth-wheel accommodations for themselves and, at times, their families.
However, there are still many who travel in missionary deputation work, in representing the various schools, in presenting specialized ministries, and in child evangelism endeavors, as well as the revivalists, who are hosted in private homes or parsonages. With this in view, I would like to suggest that those of us who entertain these traveling representatives of Christ and His Church, do our best to make our “prophet’s chambers” as commodious and efficient as possible.
The comments about the Shunamite woman and her husband reflect some ideas that may help us to make our housing more comfortable and fitting for those who stay in our homes. And I write it from the standpoint of a “host”, as well as from the perspective of one who travels and is often entertained in homes.
There is a suggestion in this story that perhaps should be noted: that is, for the protection and comfort of all concerned, provision should be made for courtesy and propriety in the home. I note that it was the woman and her husband who decided to make the arrangements for the traveling evangelist. While I understand that not every circumstance is under our control, I think that care should be taken so that a male evangelist not be alone in the house with a woman by herself. They may be good friends, and would never think of anything improper between them, but “we have a mean devil” and he never ceases to look for ways to damage or destroy the work of God.
We should do our best to make the Christian worker’s bed as comfortable as possible. If it is a husband and wife team visiting in the home, and if it can be done, a queen-size bed would be a nice provision. Cleanliness, is, of course, understood; cleanliness in the bathroom and in the guest room, and throughout the house should be a “given”.
Elisha’s hosts also provided a table: an evangelist may want to add to his notes, or write letters, or have a place to read his Bible or other books. “Table” to me says: “flat spaces”. I have an awful tendency to “spread out” …books, Bibles, notes, writing materials, medications, toiletries, clothes, keys, wallet, cough drops…you name it, and I am probably looking for a spot to lay it down! Do not clutter up the guest room to the point that there is no place to “spread out”.
The Shunamite woman and her husband thought about having a chair for their guest. A chair for the table would be nice. Another chair for comfort is appreciated. And remember, if there is a couple, both of them should have a place to sit down. Sometimes the edge of the bed becomes uncomfortable. Space is the operative word, I know, but when it is possible, provide your guests with chairs for their convenience.
“A candlestick.” Light. Ah, light! For some of us, as our bodies (and thus our eyes) have aged, we really need light. Your guest may enjoy reading themselves to sleep; a nice light near the bed is a great blessing. Sufficient light at the table, and at the additional chair is a wonderful and thoughtful addition to the room. If there is a ceiling light, make sure it works. A light in the closet is nice as well.
Whatever the living arrangements may be inside a home, a welcome and beautiful gesture for our traveling guests is the use of a bathroom, reserved for their family. Provide plenty of towels, tissue, washcloths, and soap (bar and liquid). Oh yes, and a box of facial tissues ought to be available. Traveling to different areas of the country may stir up allergies or
I might add that for a traveling family with children, being in a home for a week or so can add a layer of discomfort and anxiety, as parents are concerned that their children not “get into things”, and that they do not disrupt the natural rhythms of the home. If there is a way to keep a family in a place where they can be by themselves, it would be a thoughtful gesture.
It appears that Elisha stopped by his hosts home from time to time as he traveled in his prophetic ministry. Probably they did not have to provide monetary assistance to their guest. But for those who pastor, or who are camp meeting presidents (and their boards), or who have some financial responsibility for those who visit and minister, take time to evaluate what kind of remuneration you plan to give your evangelist or
Our evangelists who travel with a motor home, or trailer, need to have additional consideration. While they are not in a parsonage, or in a private home, they do have the extra expense of maintaining their home on wheels; insurance, tires, fuel, repairs, things that “go wrong” on the inside of the home. Most of them have a home base, a place where they can resort to in between meetings, and there is the additional expense of property taxes, upkeep, insurance, and repairs. Even with lower gas/diesel prices, these trailers and motor homes are enormously expensive to keep on the road. We need to be aware of the extra expenses and adjust our giving accordingly. If your church or camp has been giving generous offerings to our evangelists, but have been giving the “same” generous offering for years, it may be time to re-evaluate the financial care you are giving.
A traveling evangelist may have children who are being home-schooled; why not consider adding a bit more to the general offering to aid them with school expenses? And if they are eating in their “home away from home”, make sure you assist them with food expenses.
Few of our evangelist can put together a 45 meeting slate every year. This means, even for the busiest of them, several weeks come when they have no income, and yet the expenses keep coming. Let us examine our church or camp meeting strategy for paying evangelists, and do our best to increase our giving, or find some way of adding benefits to those who serve us by coming to our churches, camps, conventions, and
“Let us make a little chamber … and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick…”