In this post, I want to link back to a hospitality guide I wrote some years ago. I wrote this practical guide in order to equip Western Christians to open up their homes and show hospitality to Middle Eastern and Central Asian friends and neighbors. With the new influx of Afghan refugees, now would be a good time to revisit the opportunity that Christians have to “show hospitality to strangers” (Heb 13:2). Statistically, most of these refugees will never be invited into a Westerner’s home for tea, dinner, or for a holiday. Imagine the powerful kindness, then, felt by a new refugee family who experiences an exception and is welcomed into your home – and the format of the evening is even somewhat familiar for them.
While this guide was not written with Afghans in particular in mind, there should be a large degree of overlap. I did consult with Iranian friends while writing it, so there should be a lot of near-culture familiarity. A couple of notes regarding things I have learned since then:
Toilet shoes. Set out a couple pair of flip flops or slip-on rubber sandals in front of your bathroom/restroom/WC area. Since they leave their outside shoes at the door, Central Asians feel very dirty going into a toilet area in only their socks or barefoot.
Order of entry and exit. At least in our area of Central Asia, the host should step outside and insist the guest should enter the house first. The guest will then politely refuse. After some back and forth of this, the host is expected to go first into the home. This is then reversed on the way out. The host should not exit the house before the guest, as this can imply that they are eager for the guest to leave.
Pictures. Many Central Asians love to take pictures and selfies together to commemorate an event. It’s best to take your guests’ lead on this front. But don’t be alarmed if your dinner gathering ends up posted on their social media accounts. It’s polite to ask to take pictures together if you are the initiator. Try to be sensitive to whether or not the men of the family want their wife or daughters included in the pictures.
Here is the link to the post containing the hospitality guide. As you hear of Christian friends who have opportunities to host Aghans that are being resettled, feel free to pass this guide along. And if any of the advice in this guide proves to be irrelevant or unhelpful for Afghan culture, then I would love to know that. Happy hosting.