If you head north on I-35 West out of Minneapolis, take Exit 220, and then go five miles on County Road Six, you’ll hit the farm home of Kay and Willis Finifrock. It’s one of the most welcoming places on planet earth. For eight years I had the privilege of being Kay and Willis’s pastor in Barnum, Minnesota, population 460. Willis, a retired farmer and furnace repairman, and Kay, a homemaker, church leader and fabulous cook created a zone of radical hospitality for the weary, lonely pilgrims of life who need a refuge. I will never forget the farm dinners with roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, biscuits and at least three kinds of homemade pies. I could go back to Barnum, Minnesota anytime, and Kay and Willis would welcome me with open arms.
Now let me tell you about another zone of radical hospitality. It’s the home of Leon and Nancy Finifrock, also in Barnum, Minnesota. In their career as foster parents, Leon and Nancy took in over one hundred teenage boys, mostly boys that no one wanted—not even the state of Minnesota. They were boys Nancy claimed had sadly become “the rejects of our society’s dysfunction.” In their home, on forty acres of land, they had also created a zone of radical hospitality. For eight years, Leon and Nancy would welcome my entire family with their entire family—usually including six to eight teenage boys—around their dinner table, for a huge Sunday afternoon brunch, and then a football game.
It’s tempting to think that what Willis and Kay and then what Nancy and Leon did was something unusual or unique. But for Christians, it’s not supposed to be unique. It’s just what the church does. We create ...
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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).