My husband Tracy is not usually a weepy man. But on this hot July afternoon in Kansas, sitting on our front porch with me, he brushed away tears as he closed his Bible.
|Tracy and Becky|
He wasn’t sad. Or mad. Nobody had died.
Instead, he was overwhelmed by the vision God had given us to turn our house into a bed and breakfast.
We’d been praying for a couple of years about whether or not we should downsize or use the big old house for something worthwhile. Only one of our eight children was still at home, and the three of us sure didn’t need all the upkeep that came with three stories if it was just going to be us filling the space.
Now we had our answer as both of us had a vision of the people that God wanted to send to our home. We could see a line of tired pastors, discouraged Christians, and troubled marriages coming for refreshing. We figured we’d host tourists, too, as they came to enjoy a concert at the Old Mill Theatre or shopping in our quaint downtown stores. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Underground Salt Mines in the nearest town brought visitors to our area from all over the world, so we figured we’d stay busy.
Our home had a long history of service. It was built in the late 1800’s, then purchased by the Buhler Mennonite Brethren Church to fulfill their vision for an “old people’s home.” For many years, it was the Sunshine Home before being moved to its current location, where we Spencers have lived for almost twenty years. We raised our family of four birth children and four adopted children in this house, and many happy memories have been made here.
So we wanted that joy to live on. Of course, we knew we’d have guests whose values might not match ours, but we were confident the Lord Jesus was leading us by His Spirit, so we spent the next year and a half remodeling, ordering furniture, and redecorating the whole place. As we worked, we prayed for the needy Christians God would send to rest, relax, and reconnect with Him and each other.
Finally we were ready to open, and we eagerly chased away every last speck of dust, even while washing the final flecks of paint from our hands. It was time to open our home and our hearts to our first guests.
|Outside of the beautiful house|
We had no idea that we would face our greatest test right off the bat. We had all three rooms booked. One to a middle-aged couple, one to their son and his girlfriend, and one to a lesbian couple. Of course, we didn’t know before they came what the situations were, but what do you do? We prayed a lot and did our best to love everybody. I slept lightly that night.
The next morning after checkout, we discovered that the lesbians had gotten drunk while they were out the night before, then they’d thrown up all over our brand new bathroom. It had never even been used before!
Tracy and I were terribly upset. We cried, “Lord, this is not what we signed up for! We thought You called us to reach out to Your people who are tired and hurting. Not to people who are engaged in this kind of sin that we have never allowed under our roof!” Up to that point, we had embraced loving on people who were different from us. We knew people could be “messy,” and sinners . . .well, sin.
|The angel room is decorated with various angel figurines the couple have collected through the years. “Not because we worship the created beings, but because we love the reminder that God uses them to carry out His purposes in the earth,” says Becky.|
But that is not the same as having them “sin” in our home. It wasn’t that we thought we were better than anybody else—goodness, the Lord had saved us out of great darkness, too. But we were afraid we’d grossly misunderstood God’s direction, but it was too late to change our minds; the bills for the renovations had to be paid, so we had to press forward. Both of us went back to prayer as we questioned where God was in this mess.
All the next day we prayed for guidance, dreading our next bookings, fearing the looming years ahead that could be spent cleaning up vomit and trying to keep our then twelve-year-old from being influenced by lifestyles she’d never seen up close before.
And before twenty-four hours had passed, God faithfully replied. My Bible reading that day was from Matthew 5:46, reminding me that if we only love those who are like us, we’re no better than the tax collectors. Tracy’s reading was also in the Gospels, where he was reminded that we’re called to be “salt and light”. As we talked it over again that next evening, we knew the message was that we could not be salty without getting close to people—salt gets on the item it’s supposed to flavor or preserve.
God made it clear that He wanted us to open our door to anybody He sent our way, regardless of lifestyle, background, or religious persuasion. So we made one request: that as we obeyed Him in this, He would protect our precious daughter Anna from any possible darkness that would come into our home as a result. He agreed.
Since then, we’ve had many of those pastors, married couples, and other believers that we first envisioned come through our doors. We’ve welcomed missionaries, leadership teams, and tired teachers. We’ve had lots of tourist types from all over the United States, as well as Kansans looking for a “stay-cation.” Lots of families stay here when they’re attending weddings or funerals—or visiting family members at the nursing home across the park from us. We’ve got marriage retreats planned in the future.
We pray for every person who comes through, and we’ve made precious new friends from some of the guests who have shared our home. But many of our prayers end up being shouts of thanksgiving to the God Who has allowed us to love these strangers in His Name.