Frank and Betza: Gifts of Hospitality
Rahab: Joshua 2
Frank and Betza are well known, that is, they are well known in their little puebla of Aputzio de Juarez. Of course, if you travel twenty or thirty miles on the speed-bump strewn backroads of the Mexican state of Michoacan, no one will probably have ever heard of them. Traveling a little further, maybe no one has even heard of Aputzio de Juarez.
Frank and Betza are definitely ordinary folk, living in the hill country of Michoacan. They are well known locally and in Frank’s home town of Zitacuarro, but they have no fame beyond those borders. Yet, I count this simple couple as one of the most grace-filled, hospitable couples I have ever met, but before I tell you their story, let me tell you another person’s story.
The oldest occupation in the world claimed a woman named Rahab, who lived over 3,300 years ago in the lower Jordan River town of Jericho, not far from the Dead Sea. If it had only been for her profession, Rahab would only have been known by her “clients” and by the gossiping wags of dusty Jericho, but Rehab is known, not for her profession, but for her hospitality and ultimately her ancestry.
She received into her home two spies from the invading Israelite “nation.” Upon receiving them and protecting them, she, in turn, received their promise of protection when Yahweh, the God of Israel. Rahab, a prostitute who offered her home as protection to foreigners, became part of the long line of progeny of King David of Israel and King Solomon . Then years later Rahab was listed in the geneology of the Servant-King Jesus. Rahab is in the “Faith Hall of Fame, (Hebrews chapter eleven in the New Testament), for a faith-filled act of hospitality.
Now back to Frank and Betza. They are both in my Faith Hall of Fame because of their lives of grace and hospitality. Speaking very limited English, they have consistently received non-Spanish speaking folk from the North and made them feel as family members. Having so little by American standards, they gave what they had and added to it all the love of their hearts, thus filling to the brim my sense of welcome as I too entered their home.
On one of those visits to Aputzio de Juarez and Frank and Betza’s welcoming embrace, my eldest son Andrew accompanied me and another member of the congregation of which I was a pastor in Everson, Washington. When we left our “home away from home” I knew that Andrew had been touched by the warmth and hospitality of Frank and family, but I did not realize how deeply felt was the relationship for Andres, as he is called in Spanish.
Later Andrew experienced a great loss in his life and he commented to me “I had never experienced loss before, except once.” My mind raced through his life wondering when he had experienced loss. It was when he left Aputzio, the family of welcome and love.
“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.” (Romans 15:7) Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35) Rahab and Frank and Betza are models for me of such welcoming embrace, people who welcomed the stranger.