Written by Luke Epperson
A Mat-Su host family with Safe Families for Children through Beacon Hill
When Jesus showed up at my house, he had intestinal worms and ate three plates of spaghetti. He loved
toy trains, and as a non-verbal four-year-old, he mostly grunted at the members of my family. When you
fed one of the least of the hungry people, you fed me, he had written in Matthew 25. And here he was,
tiny, odd-smelling, and vulnerable. His family was homeless and needed a place for him to stay for a
couple of weeks while they sorted out a few things. He ate our food, disrupted our lives, and stole our
My wife and I started taking care of kids to help be a solution for some of the brokenness in our
community. We have more than what we need, so we could share. After all, from Moses through John,
the writers of the Bible continually outline a theme of hospitality toward widows, orphans, and
refugees. “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the cripple, the lame, the blind, and you will be
blessed because they cannot repay you,” Jesus said in Luke 14:13-14 ESV. You display the grace inherent
in God’s nature when you “share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your
house” (Isaiah 58:7).
In retrospect, our early foray into Gospel-informed hospitality was motivated by our own savior-
complex. We wanted to change people’s lives. We wanted to be heroes. But then Jesus showed up on our doorstep in the form of twin two-year-old sisters. He showed up as a single mom escaping an abusive boyfriend. He was a sassy middle-schooler. Once, I was concerned that he was so mentally unstable that he might literally kill me. And we don’t know how any of those stories will turn out. I don’t know if we helped improve any single life, let alone “saved” anyone.
But the surprise was the change we felt in ourselves! The command to serve the poor is not designed to
save the poor. It’s designed to save me! “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of
the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord
will guide you continually” (Isaiah 58:10-11).
We experience the presence of Christ most directly in the tangible lives of suffering people. I have
discovered that serving the poor and visiting inmates has been one of the most transformative spiritual
disciplines I have ever practiced. Those challenging and disruptive people have utterly changed the way I
understand and experience the love and grace of God.
Henry Blackaby once wrote that we should “Watch where God is working and join Him.” What is Jesus
doing? He is filling out paperwork in the unemployment office, serving time in prison, trying to find a
ride to his medical appointment, wondering if his mommy will have something for him to eat tonight,
and trading away his winter coat to feed the addiction that provides escape from his overwhelming
mental health challenges. He is messy, awkward, and irresponsible. And like he did with Zacchaeus, he
wants to invite himself over to our house to eat our food and set us free. We aren’t called to be the saviors of the poor. Jesus, as “the poor,” offers himself as our Savior.
About Luke Epperson
Luke and his wife have hosted several children with Safe Families for Children in Alaska. Having served as Academic Dean at Alaska Bible Institute and an executive pastor at Church on the Rock in Alaska, Luke has spent over a decade developing leaders and practicing and teaching public speaking and storytelling.