Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Open Door Policy

For thirty years Dan and Carolyn Brannen have lived in a great big house on Beacon Hill where they have  welcomed hundreds of people into their home for meals, events, and as overnight guests.  Then there are the dozens of international students who have lived with them throughout the years.  With warmth and grace they have offered hospitality to all who enter through their open door.

This house is where Dan and Carolyn raised their daughter, Bethany.  She was a natural bridge to hesitant students who didn't know what to expect in an American home or event.  Now married, Bethany is a nurse in Seattle.

I first met the Brannens in the mid-80s.  Dan was the Seattle area director of International Students Incorporated (ISI) and I was anxious to get involved in that ministry as well.   They invited me to an event where I watched them and other volunteers mingle with the students and sensed their genuine interest in the lives of the internationals.  I was hooked.  From 1985 till 1991 my life was intertwined with international students and the people who loved them -- the staff of ISI, friendship partners (American individuals and families who were matched with a student to enrich their stay in Seattle), and other American friends of the international students.

Dan and Carolyn have been my mentors and friends.  They are unpretentious and culturally sensitive, yet they are not hesitant to share the love of Christ with others.  They take a keen interest in their students, especially those who lived with them, and have stayed in touch with them through the years.

Often students who have studied aboard find it as difficult to adjust to life back home as it was to get used to life in the US.  The return home can be especially problematic for those who have come to faith in Christ and are retuning to a nonChrisitan environment.  Most recently Dan has aided in that process, helping students find people back home to support them as returnees.

In a few days Dan and Carolyn will be moving to Tokyo, where they will combine the two things they do best -- provide hospitality and work with international students!  As managers of a guest house for TEAM missions, Carolyn will host folks from around the world who come to Japan while Dan will concentrate on student ministry.  Their roles will be much like they have been these past 30 years in Seattle.

And what will become of their house on Beacon Hill?  Bethany and her husband Jason plan to use it as a  place where people can stay while they or family members are in Seattle for extended medical help.

Even with Dan and Carolyn gone, the door of the house will remain open.

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