Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ten Things to Consider Before Inviting a Stranger In

By Gaye Clark

Gaye wrote a wonderful article in the June issue of P31 Woman about inviting an abused young woman to live with her family for a few months. She now shares these words of wisdom for anyone considering the same.

1. In the case of domestic violence, ask the woman to commit to severing the relationship with her abuser permanently.

2. Be certain your entire family favors the invitation and is capable of maintaining basic precautions for your family’s safety.

3. Have the local abuse shelter or housing authority run a background check on the woman to ensure the need is legitimate.

4. Communicate ahead of time in writing your house rules and expectations. Revisit that list frequently.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from church members. Accept offers for meals, help with moving belongings, transportation to and from work, childcare, etc.

6. Make your neighbors and local police aware of your circumstances.

7. Be patient. A woman in crisis may have difficulty planning her afternoon, let alone the following week. Help her make lists and prioritize needs.

8. Create margins in your schedule: this is no ordinary houseguest. Be available to talk, pray and listen. Limit unnecessary demands on your time and energy.

9. Encourage her to communicate often with friends and family with whom she had healthy relationships in the past. Abusers often cut off or discourage such contact.

10. Recognize radical hospitality comes with enormous risks. There is no “happily ever after” guarantee. While that may be true, seek to look at current disappointments through the lens of eternity. God often changes hearts over a matter of years, not months.

Gaye Clark is a freelance writer and cardiac nurse who lives in Augusta, Georgia, with her husband Jim and their two teenage children Anna and Nathan. She remains active in inner city ministry.