How one couple uses their Airbnb to share the gospel.

The day Michele Bailey closed on her new home, she walked through it and began to pray. She started asking God to make it a “mission home,” but she didn’t really know what that meant at the time. As a missionary herself, Michele had lived in Haiti on and off for several years, so her idea of “missions” had to do with orphans and the needy in her beloved second home. Nevertheless, she began dreaming about what her new “mission home” in Carrollton would look like.

A couple months later, Michele ran across an ad on Facebook for Airbnb, an online marketplace for travelers to rent accommodations. “I realized I could rent out a room periodically, which could help fund my work in Haiti,” she says. Michele, a single woman at the time, took all the necessary precautions—she changed her locks and put security procedures in place for herself and renters—and listed her home as an Airbnb location. 

Her first renter was a youth pastor and his wife who were in the midst of a turning point in their ministry. “I spent time in prayer and great conversation with them, speaking into their lives a bit,” Michele says. “And I thought, Thank you, God, that I get to do this in my house.” Finally realizing what her “mission home” prayer meant, she continued to rent out to different people in between trips back and forth to Haiti, and it was during this time she met Riis Christensen, now her husband. Almost immediately, he began helping her with her Airbnb renters.

One of the first times he helped her, he picked up two Hindu-practicing young men from the airport who were from India. They were enrolling in school in Dallas so they planned to stay for six weeks. Riis brought them back to the house, and they all sat at the kitchen table half the night talking about Christ. “They saw my pictures on the walls of Haiti, and they said, ‘Wow, you do that for poor people?’” Michele says. “And I responded, ‘No, I do that for God.’ They started asking me about Jesus, and I shared the gospel with them.” A few days later, Michele and Riis invited the guys to attend church with them. They said yes, and they all sat in Gateway’s Sunday service. After the message, one of the guys leaned over to Michele and whispered, “How do I receive Christ?” “We went down to the front with him, and he received Christ that day,” Michele says. “It was amazing.” He was the first, but definitely not the last, person to receive Christ while living in her home.

Michele and Riis got married soon after and have continued to rent out a room in their home to many international guests with various beliefs—Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists—and because renters share a living room and kitchen with Michele and Riis, opportunities to initiate conversation and share meals are easy to find. It often turns into Michele and Riis helping people in other practical ways too. “We’ve helped people find apartments, purchase furniture, set up bank accounts and cellphone contracts, and do so many other things. Riis took two days off work once to help a Muslim couple find a car,” Michele says. “And when they ask why we do what we do, we point them to Jesus.”

It’s been four years since Michele first opened her home, and in that time, she’s had a lot of beautiful and crazy experiences with renters: from praying with people, to calling the FBI, to staying in touch with renters-turned-friends years later. It’s never been easy, but it’s been rewarding in more ways than one. They’ve learned a lot about other cultures, food, and traditions and tackled perceptions and preconceived notions of people groups. And each rent check helps Michele fund her ministry in Haiti. “We thought we were doing this to support a ministry, but God used it as ministry,” Riis says. “He’s sending people right to our door.” 

 

Michele and Riis Christensen live in Carrollton and attend Gateway’s Dallas Campus. For more information on Michele’s ministry in Haiti, visit missionpossibledisasterrelief.com or email missionpossiblerelief@gmail.com