As an international visitor to the U.S., do you ever wonder, “Why didn’t my host offer me food or drink?” I think many Internationals find it astonishing (maybe even rude) when they visit an American home or business and aren’t offered food or drink. For these dear friends, let me say that many native-born Americans don’t grow up with your hospitality norms. I know that I grew up offering visitors a place to sit, but I wasn’t expected to offer a drink or snack.
I didn’t experience the “food and drink” type of hospitality until I met my first international friend. When I entered her home, I received a drink almost immediately and food quickly followed. I considered it a nice change, but not something that I expected.
After many years of walking alongside international students and families, I now know that serving food and drink to guests is the norm in many countries. In fact, some of my friends expect me to eat a complete meal while I’m at their house, with multiple servings. As an American, this takes some adjustment because our mealtimes aren’t always on the same schedule. If I eat lunch at home at 1 p.m., I may not be able to eat a whole meal again at 2 or 3 p.m.!
Nevertheless, I’ve grown to like my friends’ amazing hospitality, and I try to imitate them to the the best of my ability. Although I rarely cook a full meal when others come to my house, I offer a drink and snack. Of course, the snack may not be much if I’m unprepared, lol. Believer it or not, remembering to keep food around for guests isn’t an easy habit to develop if you didn’t grow up doing it.
Easy or not, hospitality centered around food and drink is fully biblical. Because of my international friends, I now understand my own Scriptures better. Stories like Abraham inviting the three strangers into his home (Genesis 18) and Martha’s frustration with Mary (Luke 10) are stories centered around hospitality. Even Jesus’ last time with the disciples before he died was centered around food and hospitality (John 13). I completely missed this aspect of the stories before becoming accustomed to abundant hospitality!
Because of my background, I doubt that I’ll ever feel disrespected if someone forgets to offer me food or drink when I visit. However, I want those who visit our house to be glad they came and feel welcomed. For some, this means offering food and drink, and that’s terrific. It helps me practice my “abundant hospitality” skills.
Meet you at the door with a glass of water and some chips!
Photo by Vanderdecken, via Wikimedia Commons