Caring for soul and body has been of great interest to me most of my life. I think it’s the interest of most human beings. There are few who do this kind of work well. When you find one, it’s good to get to know him or her. Today, I introduce you to a man who did this so well that he is actually known as Sampson the Hospitable. He’s my hero, brother, and friend. Even though we’re separated in time by 1500 years, he is one of the “cloud of witnesses” that watches over me. You and I don’t walk this journey alone. Many among the “company of saints” are walking with us. But among them, Sampson is special.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople died June 27, 530 AD. He is known for real-life hospitality given to the sick and poor.
Sampson was born in Rome to a wealthy and notable family. He was well educated focusing on medicine. He often took care of the sick without charge. When Sampson’s parents died he inherited their wealth including slaves and property. Rather than settling down to a comfortable lifestyle, he sold everything, freed the slaves and prepared to head into the wilderness to become a God-seeking hermit, doing battle with satan. Sampson set out towards the East from Rome. But, the Lord changed his plans and directed him on a path of service to neighbor, caring for those around him.
He came to Constantinople, settled into a small house, and began to take in homeless wanderers, the poor and the sick, caring for their souls and bodies. Perhaps the house looked like a medical clinic, hostel, and homeless shelter rolled into one. The Lord blessed the efforts of Sampson and gave him the power of wonderworking. He healed the sick not only through his medical skills but also as a bearer of the grace of God. His efforts did not go unnoticed. The Patriarch of Constantinople heard of his great virtue and ordained him to the priesthood. However, he did not pastor a church but continued to serve and care for the sick and poor.
One day, it was revealed to the grievously ill Emperor Justinian (482-565), that he could receive healing only through Sampson. In praying, Sampson put his hand on the afflicted area and Justinian was healed. Deeply grateful for Sampson’s help, the emperor offered Sampson silver and gold. But Sampson instead asked for help to build a new home where he could continue and expand his work caring for the poor and sick. Justinian agreed and helped Sampson build one of the largest free hospitals in the empire.
Sampson devoted the rest of his life to serving his neighbor. He survived into old age. After a short illness he departed peacefully to the Lord. The saint was buried at the church of the holy Martyr Mocius and many healings were effected at his grave. His hospice remained open where the saint continued to care for the suffering. At the request of an admirer of Sampson, the hospice was transformed into a church and beside it a new edifice was built for the homeless. During the time of a powerful fire at Constantinople the flames did not touch the hospice of St Sampson. It is believed that through his intercession a heavy rain quenched the fire. This hospice continued to be a place of care for the souls and bodies of the sick and poor for nearly 600 years.
Lessons from the life of Sampson the Hospitable Giving up everything to follow Jesus – Christians often talk about full devotion to Jesus Christ. But do you personally know anyone who has given away their wealth and possessions to live as poor in order to help the sick and poor, like Jesus did? (I know some who didn’t have much to begin with who do this kind of ministry.)
- Use of skills – Healing of soul and body is always by God’s mercy. Skills and medicine may be used or not. But, when you use the skills and gifts given you by God, you either learn to operate them in His grace or they become the means of self-serving.
- Direction from God – Following God’s lead may take you to surprising places. Yet, these places will be a better fit for you. God has a way of molding together your personality, interests, skills, and dreams to direct you to inner transformation and service to others.
- The ministry of hospitality includes caring for oneself and caring for others. Learning to live in God’s love, care, and mercy opens your heart to minister the same to others. You may be surrounded by many who are spiritually “sick and poor.” Your loving hospitality towards them may bring them to Christ.
- Faithfulness in the small things – You never know what doors may open when you begin a new venture. It may seem small at first. Yet, God can grow you and your ministry in ways you never imagined. Just remain faithful.
- Death is not the end but brings forth life – Evangelist D. L. Moody told people not to believe it when they’d heard that he had died because at that moment he’d be “more alive than ever.” Is it crazy to think that those who’ve gone before us are still alive? Can they still care for us, pray for us, love us, and protect us? Why not? Jesus Christ defeated death by his own death. Those in Christ will always be alive.
What do you learn from Sampson the Hospitable? Share your thoughts below. And share the life of Sampson with others by your hospitality and/or by sharing this post.