Mi Casa Es Tu Casa: Cultivating an Environment of Hospitality in the Rio Grande Valley


Eric Buell

Publication Date



This study began with a desire to understand the implications of the widely used Mexican phrase; mi casa es tu casa,‘my home is your home’. This phrase echoes the sentiment and practice of hospitality in the Mexican-American context of McAllen, TX. Immigration is a constant reality in the Rio Grande Valley due to its proximity to Mexico. With the continual flow of people in and out of the Valley the Rio Valley Church of the Nazarene has the opportunity to respond to the needs of immigrants and Valley residents. This opportunity, however, is not limited to churches on the border; each church must address the issue of how they will welcome the stranger in their midst.

I use Integral Mission as the backdrop of God’s will for the world he has created. By appreciating the holistic nature of God’s mission, I focus on the rich tapestry of hospitality that God has woven through the Scripture. I then take this same theoretical focus to hear how Mexicans and Mexican Americans perceive and practice hospitality.

I interviewed twenty-eight Valley residents. Through ethnographic interviews, participant observation and focus groups I gathered data from my research participants concerning their practices and perceptions of hospitality in the RGV. I also listened to my Mexican-American participants as they described how they were welcomed at RVC and other Valley churches. Using their own descriptions of hospitality the participants related that the home is the locus of hospitality in their experience. Added to this key finding, three additional principles for hospitality emerged from my research:. (1) God in the stranger (theoxenia), (2) approach to people, and (3) attitude/awareness. I use these findings and make recommendations for a biblical theology of hospitality.

The “Hospitality Challenge”, a short, simple prayer for daily hospitality opportunities, was an enlightening experience in which eleven RVC members prayed during a forty-day period. They shared their experiences with me in a debriefing session that revealed significant change in their lives. This challenge validated my findings in that the home, approach, attitude/awareness and the possibility of a theoxenia appearance are not only perceived opportunities for hospitality but also for its practice.

Mentor: R. Daniel Shaw, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Shaw, R. Daniel

Document Type



Rio Valley Church of the Nazarene (McAllen, Tex.); Missions; Hospitality; Church work with Mexican Americans; Church work with immigrants; Texas


Missions and World Christianity


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