2011 - Vol. 48.
Elizabeth (left) with the Marcojos
family in Manila, Philippines
of Inter-Community Hospitality
Elizabeth Grace Saunders
This past January, I visited my eighth community in the Sword of the
Spirit, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon. At this stage of my life and career, I
am blessed to have many opportunities to travel and visit communities not
only nearby, but on the other side of the world as well. I’ve found that
with each trip my love for community – not just my home community, Word
of Life, but the whole network of the Sword of the Spirit – grows and grows
and grows. These travels provide incredible encouragement to me that there
are people all over the world living the same way of life. It’s also an
excellent way to learn different approaches to community building and for
me, as a Protestant, to live out practical ecumenism with all-Catholic
Some of you have experienced the joys of meeting brothers and sisters
in community from around the globe. But others may be thinking, “That sounds
great for you. But that’s really not possible for me.”
I understand that not everyone can do quite as much travel to other
communities, but almost everyone can capture more of a global community
Here are some practical tips that I have learned, both in receiving
hospitality from people from other communities, and in showing hospitality
to those who visit my community.
If you see someone new at your community meeting or hear someone introduced
as a visitor, go over and say, Hello. Generally they’re very happy to have
people to talk to when they’re outside of their normal environment. If
you connect well, you may have a longer conversation, but even a few minutes
of asking someone where they’re from and why they’re visiting can be a
If you get on well with someone or know that someone is visiting from far
away, consider inviting them to dinner or taking them to local sites of
interest. If they don’t have a lot of scheduled activities, this practical
hospitality is much appreciated.
If you have the ability to make a room or even a comfortable coach available,
let your community visitor coordinator know that you’re open to hosting
guests. People coming from out of town will greatly appreciate having
a place to stay and this gives you a wonderful opportunity to get to know
Tess and Elizabeth (rightt)
in Manila, Philippines
Sword of the Spirit conferences often happen nearby your community and
are an easy way to get to know those outside of your local circle. During
the socializing times or when you’re choosing a place to sit, look for
people that you don’t know. If it’s intimidating for you to do this on
your own, ask one or two friends to join you in talking with people outside
your local circle.
Regional conferences offer an amazing chance for you to spend time with
people from other parts of the country or continent or even the world.
These events require more commitment in terms of time and cost but pay
off in providing expanded opportunities to make connections. Some of the
best ways to meet new people during these times are to room with someone
from another community, sit with people you don’t know at sessions and
meals, ask the people you do know to introduce you to new people, and to
participate in activities during the breaks that are open to people from
Serving at conferences is another way to get to know people from all corners
of the world by working alongside them. Every service, small or great,
is appreciated at these events: giving people rides, hosting participants,
cooking, leading worship, or coordinating small discussion groups.
All of the Sword of the Spirit communities are listed at this Web address:
http://www.swordofthespirit.net/communities.html Some communities are the
only ones in their country but others have quite a number of communities
close by. If a community is just a short day trip away, consider attending
a prayer meeting there. Many of them have their prayer meetings and contact
information listed on an online calendar, or you can ask your local community
leaders if they have any connections or contact details.
If you notice that you’ll be traveling to a place near a community, consider
stopping in for a day or two. For instance, I met someone from the Triumph
of the Cross community at the North American Regional Conference last June.
In November, I drove to her family’s home after I completed a business
conference in the DC area. This gave me the chance to spend two nights
with them, including seeing part of the Appalachian Trail and attending
a dinner with community families.
Consider taking a vacation to another part of the country or the world
where you can experience a new community. For instance in January, I had
the opportunity to visit the Ligaya community in Manila. This adventure
showed me once again how our community life is the same all over the world
– including Lord’s Days, prayer meetings, women’s groups, and even honorings
at birthdays. But this trip also allowed me to pick up new ideas for building
community life among young professionals. I brought back lots of ideas
to the leadership team in my home community in Ann Arbor.
Elizabeth and the Estrella's
children in Manila, Philippines
Most importantly, pray that God would direct your steps. Ask him to tell
you where he would like to lead you. The best place to be – at home or
abroad – is in his will.
Gap years and years of service allow you to serve in other parts of the
country or the world. Consider whether God is calling you to take time
away from your own community to be a blessing to others and then ask your
coordinators how you can apply.
If God is calling you to consider living single for the Lord, your time
of discernment could be an opportunity to travel and stay for a while in
one of the Servants of the Word households located in five countries, or
with one of the women from the Bethany Association who live in a number
of Sword of the Spirit communities worldwide.
Staff workers for Kairos, an international federation of outreaches to
high school, university and post university aged people, will often have
the opportunity to interact with people from other communities. If you
feel God calling you to serve in one of the Kairos outreaches in your own
community or elsewhere, he could use this time to broaden your international
Community building in new places and community development in areas where
groups want to become an affiliated community also requires visitors from
established communities. You could let your community leaders know
you’re willing to be of service in this way.
[Elizabeth Grace Saunders
is a member of the Word of
Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She owns a time coaching &
training company that empowers people who are overwhelmed and frustrated
to feel peaceful and accomplished through Schedule