The Gander Example

Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.
—1 Peter 4:9-10 (NLT)

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, United States airspace was completely shut down. Planes that were flying anywhere over the U.S. or approaching U.S. airspace were all redirected and forced to land at the closest available airport. That morning, like any other day, many international flights from Europe were approaching the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. Many of these flights were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.

Gander was only a small town of 10,400 people but maintained the largest international airport in the province of Newfoundland – with a runway that could accommodate the large jets that fly international routes. Thirty-eight redirected planes landed at Gander, carrying nearly 7,000 people.

No one would have been surprised had the residents of Gander been overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the stranded travelers. Who would have blamed them if they had boarded up the town hid behind closed doors? But, this wasn’t how Gander responded. Instead, responding to radio announcements, the residents of Gander and surrounding towns rallied up and dove deep into self-sacrifice.

The residents supplied virtually every need of the stranded travelers from offering toothpaste, to opening their homes, to providing spare underwear, to offering harbor-excursion day trips. When U.S. airspace was finally reopened and flights began leaving Gander for their destinations, one passenger reported that the atmosphere of the crowds was simply “cruise-like.”

What a great story! The people of Gander provided a powerful example of what the people of God are to be like. Regardless of whether or not people are followers of Christ, whenever love, kindness, generosity, and hospitality are demonstrated they are without a doubt the fingerprints of our Creator upon humankind.

If the people of the world can demonstrate such uncommon graces in times of crisis, how much more should the followers of Christ demonstrate these characteristics every day? As children of God, we are called to love one another, love our neighbors, demonstrate kindness, be generous, and practice hospitality – all in the name of Jesus. The old hymn still rings true today, “They will know we are Christians by our love…”

1. Practicing hospitality isn’t always easy. It requires self-sacrifice. What obstacles keep you from practicing hospitality?

2. Today, demonstrate hospitality to someone through an act of self-sacrifice.

Luke 10:25-37; Romans 12:13; Galatians 5:22

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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