weareaway - the christian travel-community

I have written a nice blog for you about my night shift at the Shelter City hostel in Amsterdam, be blessed!

I'm in my series of night shifts again. It's messy. Sick volunteers, tired people, weird guests, grumpy me. Amsterdam was way to busy to bike through today.

I'm at the desk and I have a late check in. It's a girl from Texas. She's really tired from her busride. She came from London to Amsterdam by bus. Travelling is exhausting, and at the central station she wanted to go to the toilet and didn't have any small change. Luckily for her she found a restroom just in time.

I tell her at check in that we are a Christian hostel. After the word &39;, It's like I see imaginative spikes on her back, like an allergic reaction towards this word. She starts to ask me hard questions. 'Do you really like this job? Aren't you just saying you like to work here out of politeness? Do you have to be a Christian to work her?'

The lock she has brought for her personal locker is too small. So I tell her that she might need another one, and that we sell locks for 4 euros a piece. She comments: so you are a Christian hostel? I thought you would be like the good Samaritan, giving stuff away for free? (It's actually quite funny she brings up the Samaritan, because he brought the wounded guy to a hostel. A sort of early version of the Shelter.) I comment that I don't agree that we should give stuff for free just because we are Christian. She walks to her room to see if her lock works.

I return to my nightman chores and my thoughts aren't that positive. I don't feel happy. I think by myself: here we go again, another bitter person that thinks that everything about christianity is fake and hypocrite.

The girl comes back and says that she wants a lock. I make a move that surprises myself. 'I want to pay for your lock' I say to her. Her eyes become bigger and bigger. Shelooks puzzled. 'no I can really pay for it' she says. I reply again: 'I want to pay for it'. She doesn't give in, but after I sell het the lock I get a warm 'thank you' from her. The coldness is out of the sky, and she goes to her room.

A few hours later:

It's a busy night. Because of the sick staff, I have to do extra chores. I want to change some toilet rolls in the girls bathroom ( doing nightwork is not always romantic, I'm sorry ), and suddenly my phone rings. It means somebody is at the door and wants to come in.

I open the door and an Arabic guy comes in and stands at the window. I pick up the intercom phone and he starts to explain why he has interrupted my toilet roll adventure. He's from Dubai, he arrived late and he and his friend are looking for a place to sleep. I get these questions a lot during night shifts. Mostly from drunken Dutch people, or tourists that are high on God knows what! But this story seems legit, and I just had to cancel two male beds, so there is a possibility that I can give them a &39; for the night. I tell them to come in, and ask them some final questions to base my decision on. I always pray for wisdom from God: who to let in, and who to let out. Obeying God is sometimes giving the person in front of you a polite &39; and protecting the hostel. I feel a &39; in my heart, and we start to do the check in.

At check in we always tell people that we are a Christian hostel. The two guys almost walk away as I say: 'Hey guys, wait. I want to tell you that we are a Christian hostel. You don't have to be a Christian to stay here. But we are doing this work to love you.' I see that it touches them. A place that is run to love people, that's something different. They thank me many times for giving them a place to sleep. They ask me when my shift is over, and hope we might see eachother again.

I have learned so much from these meetings. We can reach people with words, they can be really powerful. But loving with deeds leaves a mark on our words. We can tell people that we are Christians, but if they can't see it in the way we love them, our words are false. That's why we often are being called: hypocrites, fake or judgemental. It's because we téll people we will accept them as they are. But when it comes to the reality, we often lack grace and love for our neighbour.

I struggle a lot with this. There are many people I find annoying. Many people I have judged without exchanging one word. And I feel God is changing this perception, this arrogance of mine, and making it in something beautiful. Every person is an opportunity for an exchange and what a beautiful meeting it can be! I have had so many meetings throughout the last few weeks, with so many different kinds of persons. And the only thing I can conclude is that God really loves, sees and values every human.

The Bible states that loving your neighbour is equal to loving God. I think it's because God shelters in the meetings we have. Where walls fall down, real communication can flow. It's the place where love is, and where Jesus can reveal himself through the Holy Spirit. Let's stay open for the people around us. Also if they stink, have a nationality you might not like, are fan of Ajax ( sorry André Molenaar ;) ) or whatever else that's different compared to you. You might be more alike than you would expect.

Love from the night!

Gr Timo