Bringing the Text to Life

Help Wanted: Only Shunammites Need Apply 2 Kings 4:8-17

It is time to bring back the early Christian tradition of hospitality as expressed in the "Shunammite household."

While the story of the Shunammite woman might be an unfamiliar one today, she served as an important symbol among evangelical Christians in the 19th century. In American religious history, there was a tradition known as "Shunammite households" which played a crucial role in the development of frontier faith communities.

In the days when itinerancy meant moving on every few hours, not every few years, the life of one of these traveling preachers was a hard one indeed. They endured harsh weather, bad roads and poor food as they traveled endlessly about their "circuit." In response to their needs, and out of a sense of commitment to their community's spiritual health, numerous homes along the preacher's way would be designated "Shunammite households." Each of these would maintain a "prophet's chamber" - a room that was always available on a moment's notice to provide hospitality and warmth to those doing the Lord's work. Like the Shunammite woman's rooftop chamber, this small space...

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