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“Lord, I don’t understand!” I opined. “Everything was pointing to moving overseas. Now I’m stuck right back where I started—at home. You know how much I desire to get to know international people and share the gospel with them. Why did you put that desire in my heart if I’m going to stay right here?” I was angry and honest and let God know my heart, because, well, He already knows it. I know He can handle my honesty. And if God ever winks, He winked at me just then and said, “Trust me, Michelle.” Not out loud. But He said it. “Trust me.” And so began a most unusual and hilarious and totally divine answer to prayer.
Fast forward to the present. We just changed the sheets (again) to prepare for a young teacher from China who will stay with us for two days. A young man from North Carolina who used to live with us is coming back for a few days. A local high-school girl stayed here last week. Two Protestant missionaries and a Catholic priest were here from France the two weeks before that. A man coming through from Ohio spent one night. A dear friend from North Carolina popped in for a night. A Dutch family of four spent two days sightseeing and sleeping here. Another high-school girl spent a week here. A family from Boston came for a week. And all this has been in the past two months!
Our Christian “youth hostel” is alive and well, and the Lord is not only winking now, but laughing . . . laughing at the creative ways in which He fulfills not only His will, but also the desires of our hearts. It is divine comedy at its best, and I’m still shaking my head in wonder.
“How do people find you?” I get asked quite a lot. “God,” I tell them. It’s true. God leads them to us. But we also do our own outreach. One way is through Couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing is an online network of individuals around the world who have a desire to travel and meet new people. Through the network, strangers are able to find free lodging with willing hosts. Like Facebook, members have a personal profile where they introduce themselves and describe what sort of a “couch” they have to offer. Then travelers can send a request for a couch (or bed or air mattress, as the case may be), and the host can decide to accept them or not.
When I first suggested we sign up for Couchsurfing, my husband was dead-set against it. “Are you crazy?” were his exact words, as I recall. “We don’t know these people!”
“I know! That’s what makes it so exciting!” I replied with a grin. But I must admit, the first time we actually welcomed couchsurfers into our home, even I had a measure of trepidation. This was unknown territory for all of us. When a young couple from Slovenia arrived with their sweet little one-and-a-half-year-old, however, we realized we had nothing to fear. “This is the first American home we have ever been in,” they announced as they walked through the door. At that moment, we realized what a privilege it was to represent not only America, but also our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now that we have been doing this for several years, we are astounded at how God sends people to us. Sometimes I get three to four requests per week. In addition to couchsurfing, many people refer housing requests to us. Friends of friends of friends end up at our house. Two young women from North Carolina wound up staying here after they sent an e-mail to a young man in Switzerland who had stayed with us the year before. But while the word gets out, it really is God who is our booking agent. We know He is guiding the right people to us.
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