Alexander R. Hay

To the women of our congregations to whose faithful ministry so much is owed.


The home affords an ideal and unequalled sphere for spiritual service of a peculiarly fruitful and rewarding kind. Everybody enjoys a home-like home. For everyone, it is the normal setting in which to find companionship, comfort, rest and security. Every one needs a home and appreciates being in one. We like to go out to the street, the restaurant, the trip to the country, the meeting – but only for a time. The home meets our basic need and it must be there to come back to.

Some have happy homes; some have not. Some Christian people are in homes in which no other member is a Christian. Such people are lonely for the spiritual fellowship of a Christian home. Some are living away from home, and how wonderful it is to have a welcome in a friend’s home!

In our own home those who have come into it to share it with us have contributed much to its memories of happiness and rich fellowship. Our home has always been open to others. We felt it was our duty to God, to our fellow-men and to our children. We wanted our children to find in their own home all the interests that they needed. We did not want them on the street or frequenting other homes that we did not know or did not approve of, so we provided for them all the company they needed in their own home.

There were homes like our own with a similar Christian standard that were open to our children. To these we were glad that they should go. The influence of these homes upon them was good. Naturally our children enjoyed visiting other homes. It was broadening and instructive to them. Above all, what exercised a deep influence upon them was the fact that they saw that there were other homes just like their own, other fathers and mothers with the same faith and the same principles. They saw that they were not alone or different – a thing that children do not like to feel. It helped them to form a judgment that was true as they compared their own home with homes that were worldly and whose standards were different. Thus, while our home was open to the children of others, we ourselves benefited by other homes that were open to ours.

In their own home our children came to know many people – other children of their own ages, young people whom they looked up to and who held the same principles as their parents, adults of all ages, servants of the Lord who radiated his presence and showed that Christian people can be just as good fun and normal as anyone – and happier; interesting people of different nationalities, different races and with different customs, who, they found, were just people like any others, just as intelligent and just as loveable. Not only spiritually, but intellectually the children benefited. Their knowledge was increased, their interests widened, their outlook and sympathies broadened. They received something that was of inestimable value.

When our children were no longer in our home we wondered if young people would still want to come. Would the absence of our children make the young people feel that there was nothing to attract them? But they came; more than ever.

Young folk like the presence of a father and mother in the home that they visit. A home without them would not be a home. Their presence is normal; it gives guarantees; it gives the home atmosphere. If need be, they are a father and mother who can be consulted- for young folk often need someone they can trust to take their problems to.

Of course, it must be understood by anyone who would counsel young people that there is no greater mistake than to seek to intrude into the privacy of a young person’s life. Often it is necessary to pray and wait, but to the one who understands and does so the time will come when the young person will seek the counsel he needs.

Our home has been a second home to young people who found no Christian fellowship in their own homes and to many who were away from home. If you were to drop in on a Sunday afternoon you might find two, three or a dozen or two dozen young folk, filling the house in the winter time, and out in the garden in the summer.

There would be one or two from the congregation – not many of them, because most of them are out in the districts around holding meetings in the open-air or in homes. There may be a number of Christian university students. Most of these have traveled for one to two hours from across the city to come. Then there might be some Christian nurses who also have had to come from a distance. Sometimes unconverted companions are brought whom the Christian young people are seeking to lead to the Lord.

They all have a happy time. Naturally the young folk love to meet together and talk and have a good time. But they like to be serious also, and they seek with us that the conversation should be worthwhile, that the Lord should be the center of it as He is the centre of the home. Often the deepest spiritual things are talked of, or the special problems that face them in their witness in school or in business.

Prayer and care are necessary that these times should have something really vital spiritually. We must be ever watchful before the Lord. The standard must never be lowered; if it is, the confidence of the young folk will be lost and the Spirit quenched. Fun is good, but it must be kept in its place. Conversation can drift to what is not profitable.

It must be remembered that the young people are enjoying the home as well as enjoying being together and the spiritual fellowship. Let them enjoy it. The two sexes feel comfortable and free together because it is a home and they can act normally. Some just like to relax in the home atmosphere. Some like to sit down at our organ to play some hymns while others enjoy having a good sing. Some like to go into the kitchen and help prepare something to eat, or wash up the dishes. If they are away from home it feels grand to do something they would do in their own home. Let them do it. Let them feel at home and make themselves at home. They cannot do that sitting politely as guests.

What is the woman’s part in all this? Any woman knows! There is ample scope for all her gifts of home-maker, hostess, friend, mother and spiritual counselor. She needs abundance of wisdom and grace, love, understanding, patience and sympathy. And what does a woman get out of it? She finds a ministry that demands her utmost and her best and she can reap a pleasure that is deeply satisfying.

But what about the house? What about the wear and tear on the furniture? Yes, your home will look like a home that is lived in, the furniture like furniture that is used. But, after all, does any other kind of a home really look so inviting? And the danger of wear and tear can easily be exaggerated. But, anyway, is it not worth it?

And what about the work entailed? Yes, it means work. But not only work – how many will come? There is the uncertainty about how many to prepare for. That may be inevitable. We want the young people to feel quite free to come any time they can, to know that the door is always open to them as it would be in their home. And we want them to know that they can bring along an unconverted young person – or two, or three – at any time. So – how many are coming tomorrow? How much food has to be prepared? We think there will be a dozen – and there might be twenty, or, perhaps just six or seven!

Then they come! Not just the number we expected; but how happy they are to be here. We see it in their faces. They take possession of the home. Soon they go out to attend a young people’s Bible study, then they come back for something to eat.

“What is there to do?” “Shall I make the sandwiches?” “May I set the table?” “Are more chairs needed?” The house is full of bustle and chatter! There is good fellowship around the table. They are glad to be among believers and to talk about the Lord. They speak of their experiences during the week. Some are working their way through school. Some do not have it easy. Then, when the meal is over, they still want to sit and continue some theme.

The dishes have to be done and the kitchen is again full of young people and talk. Then it is time for the evening meeting. Probably one of the young folk is to speak and wants a room apart where he or she can pray and prepare.

Then after all is ended, the young folk are on their way back home, talking about the day they have spent, happy in the Lord. Yes, we are tired – but we would not have missed it for anything! And because the young folk know that, they will come again.

Such can be the ministry through a home, a ministry for which a woman is peculiarly fitted. God requires his people to be “hospitable”. There is a deep reason for it. It is because it is so needed and so important that one of the qualifications given as essential for the elder and the deacon is that they must be “hospitable”. The ministry of hospitality is richly rewarding for it bears abundant fruit. Yet how lacking it is. How many of God’s people do not exercise it! The need for it is very great. Everywhere there are those who would welcome it, who, perhaps, sorely need it. It is a manifestation of the love of Christ, a practical fulfilling of the commandment given to the Church to “love one another.”

Some of the young people have said to us, “I want my home to be like this.” Today they are married and are seeking to have their homes used by the Lord in ministry to others. And God is blessing them in it.

“Give, and it will be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” Luke 6:38; Proverbs 11:24-25).