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God-led hospitality gesture at GC2016 underscores United Methodist connection

PORTLAND, Ore.—When lay delegate Martha Thompson arrived in Portland for General Conference, she found herself living the Gospel in an unexpected way.

Thompson of the South Carolina Conference arrived at the airport very late at night and rode the MAX light rail to her hotel. En route, she had the chance to introduce herself to fellow lay delegate Dixie Brewster of Milton, Kansas, in the Great Plains Annual Conference, who also had a reservation at Thompson’s hotel.

“She and I only exchanged first names, where are you from, that sort of thing,” Thompson said.

After they got to the hotel and Thompson checked in, she happened to turn around and see Brewster looking distressed.

“I said, ‘Dixie, are you OK?’ and she just welled up with tears,” Thompson said.

There was a reservation snafu. Brewster’s roommate would not be arriving until the following night, and Brewster had no place to stay — there was literally no room at the inn.

Immediately, Thompson’s heart was warmed, and the words were out before she knew it.

“I said, ‘Well, you can just stay with me tonight. Come. Stay with me.’ She said, ‘Are you serious?’”

Thompson was indeed serious. And that night, two strangers formed a new bond rooted in the Gospel and the unexpected kindness of one stranger to another.

“I felt extremely blessed with the gracious hospitality,” Brewster said. “What an example of our United Methodist connection!”

“We had a great time,” Thompson said.

The women talked about Brewster’s predicament and how, for just the slightest moment, she’d had a taste of what it felt to be homeless and have no place to go.

More than a week later, Thompson and Brewster now call themselves friends and plan to stay in touch after General Conference. Brewster called Thompson “a friend for life.”

“It was just part of the connection,” Thompson said, blinking back tears as she relayed the story. “It was a God thing.”

Brewster added, “How awesome it was.”

Jessica Brodie is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @jessicajbrodie or connect with the Advocate at www.advocatesc.org or @AdvocateSC.