Pinto beans are boiling on the stove, veggies cut into strips are ready to go in the oven, meat has defrosted and waits to be cooked. Our abundance will feed our family and young men will join us before studying the Bible with my husband. We will thank God for the food then laugh and talk until supper is over. At least that is how it usually goes. But what of those who have little or nothing? What out of my abundance can I share with them?
I try to never say to my children, “You better eat more, there are kids starving in (fill in the blank).” I know there are children and elderly malnourished and starving in every corner of the world, including my small town. In Madagascar, people are reduced to eating cattle feed or cactus leaves, whatever they can find. Kids in my town are denied meals by abusive parents except those they qualify for through school programs. Elderly divide their small meals on wheels portions to try to cover the weekends. The more convicted I am to reach out to the poor, the more easily I become overwhelmed by my inadequacy to reach them, to minister nourishment to their bodies (and then earn the honor of attempting to feed their souls by introducing them to the Savior who has taught me to care).
Not long ago, my church began making meals for the elderly or shut-ins or anyone else who wanted a free meal. No requirements, no judgement, just a free meal with prayer. Other churches have joined and now each Saturday, free meals are delivered, hopefully keeping despair and malnourishment at bay.
Some precious people in our community (and many others, I know) donate to Backpack Buddies to give free snacks and prepared foods to students in need. This helps the children in abusive situations that we can’t reach. Of course, it isn’t enough, but we are praying for the summer months ahead and the opportunities God will show us.
Quite awhile ago I began “mission meals”. I would cook a different meal from a different people group that needed evangelizing. We would eat, pray, and started learning about missionaries that had traveled to the people group to love them to Jesus. I had great plans with mission meals, attempting to make inexpensive food that the common man would eat. We put the money we saved not eating a more expensive meal in our mission bank. But, life kept happening and my grand plans kept getting derailed… We have done four mission meals and although they have made a great impression on the kids, four meals over the last three years does not impress me when my goal was once a month.
And then, my precious friend asked me to help her with “poverty meals”. We began researching the world’s poorest countries and within them the ones who have the most devastating lack of food. I lost my appetite thinking about what so many have to exist on… We don’t know yet what God wants us to do, my children are eager to try out the food like its an experiment. I don’t want them to think its a game. I also don’t want to cut up my tender children with the sharp barbs of reality, but I can’t let them grow into over-privileged Americans who take their prosperity for granted. I’m praying for wisdom, how do my husband and I teach them compassion in the area of poverty? How do we make certain that as important as caring for the poor is, we do not lose sight of the fact that the spiritually destitute are our primary concern? I know this is another step in grounding our family in the good work God left for us to do, but I confess, I am overwhelmed.
For further meditation: Matthew 5:1-12, James 2:14-17