Door to their Home, and Hearts, is Open
In September 1993, when Ken and Ruth Samuelson wanted to make a commitment to community-based ministry, they didn't have to look further than their own home. That's because their home became their ministry.
In a surprising move to them, the Samuelsons decided to use their newly purchased 8,000-square-foot house in the Providence Park area as transitional housing for those in Christian ministry: missionaries, seminarians and ministers who needed temporary shelter for several weeks or months while they established themselves in positions in this country or abroad. Ruth Samuelson, 36, tells how this came about. She and Ken and their three children were living in the Cotswold area and had joined Christ Covenant Church in Matthews ``because (that church) challenged us to live a life that was a little more committed to the principle of In everything you do, do all to the glory of God.' `` They thought of moving nearer to the church.
``During the course of things, this house came to us, and over the course of several months, the Lord kind of convinced us that he didn't want us in Matthews in a smaller house with a church-based ministry, but that he wanted us in Charlotte in a larger house with a more community-based ministry,'' she says.
``I think we were uniquely suited to it, and the house was uniquely suited for us,'' says Ken Samuelson, 39, an insurance chartered life underwriter.
``Uniquely suited'' is an apt description. The house has a full basement apartment with a separate entrance. That's where the Samuelsons lodge their guests. They don't charge rent, but ask guests to pay their own telephone bills plus about $50 to cover utilities.
An area in the basement houses the Home Instructors Need Team Support library, a resource for families like the Samuelsons who home-school their children. For a fee, the library is open to the public once a week and by appointment. It is free anytime for HINTS members.
And as if these community-based efforts weren't enough, the Samuelsons host a weekly Bible study group and the couple offer the spare upstairs bedroom (where they home-school) to other Christian ministry guests for shorter-term stays.
Renovating their home for these purposes involved special considerations. The Samuelsons installed durable airport-grade carpet and faux-hardwood flooring throughout. They selected stain-proof leather upholstery. They expanded the kitchen and enclosed patio to accommodate large groups.
The Samuelsons, who now attend Uptown Christ Covenant Church, have also had to make adjustments in their personal lives.``You have to let go of things like . . . privacy, people leaving my stuff alone, quiet, private time,'' says Ken Samuelson. ``And so, if you're going to be obedient to the principles laid out in the Scripture, a lot of times you have to lay those (other) things aside so that you could accomplish these other objectives.''
``When it comes time for deciding who's going to live downstairs,'' says Ruth Samuelson, ``a lot of times we have to trust that the kids are going to get along because they play a lot . . . to trust that it's going to work out - timing, personalities. You always put yourself at risk. . . . What if somebody burned your house down or breaks everything?''
But the Samuelsons agree their efforts have resulted in great personal spiritual growth.
Ken Samuelson cites their release from ``being possessed by your possessions.''
``It's surprised me how easy it's been to do it, how you don't feel used or taken advantage of,'' he says. ``Selfishly, you sort of build really neat memories. . . . If you live a life that all you do is acquire and protect, you're not going to have very many memories. You'll have a lot of unbroken, clean, well-organized stuff, but no really fond memories.''