Friday, October 25, 2013

Why Meals Matter (Day 25)

#31days of Missional Meals

When mission becomes routine it is often easy to forget how much of an impact we are capable of having on the lives of the people we are trying to love.  I was reminded of this truth one night at the local cigar store where I used to work.  When I worked Joy and I made a habit of cooking a homemade meal for the employees about once a month in order to love and serve them.  Most of the people I worked with were 18-24 year olds who were living on their own and didn’t eat homemade meals very often so this was kind of a big deal to them.

Over the years, we have had many opportunities to get to know these people on a personal level, hearing their stories, their fears, their hopes and dreams.  We really saw the impact that taking a few minutes and preparing a homemade meal for people could have on our ability to gain access and validity into their lives.

Even now that I have left the company we still continue to make meals for them once in a while in order to maintain those relationships and get to know the new employees.  It was during one of these times that I was reminded of just how big of an impact these meals could have on someone.

As we brought a home-cooked dinner l into the store I recognized most of the guys working that night but there were a couple of new guys that I wasn’t very familiar with other than just a few casual conversations when I visited the store.  One of those new guys was a very out-going and friendly guy but very vulgar and very upfront with his views against religion.  I had never had a one-on-one conversation about his views but I had overheard a couple of conversations before and gotten the gist.

When we set out the food and invited the guys to dig in he stood back and waited to eat last, but before he went to get his food he pulled me aside and asked why we had done this.  The question caught me off guard because in all the years we had been bringing food no one had asked me this question before (I think everyone was just happy to have some good food brought to them).  My mind was racing as I attempted to formulate my thoughts into a cohesive and brilliant summary of the Gospel and Joy and I were serving these guys.

However, on that day, eloquence was not going to happen and what came out of my mouth was essentially, “My wife and I are Christians and we think that part of living out the Gospel of Jesus includes loving people.  We hope this food is a sign of that love.”  I’m sure the words were far less articulate than those sentences just conveyed, but the point got across nonetheless. 

He looked back at me with a face that expressed both doubt and bemusement, but he replied with, “I don’t f***ing get it, but thanks for doing something nice for us.”  It wasn’t the earth-shattering sermon illustration that I might have hoped for but it brought me back to the reason we were doing this in the first place.

Food was a foot in the door for us.  Meals let us have an opportunity to sit down with people and share an experience that gave us access to their lives.  It was a stepping stone to tell them about the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A few dollars out of our pocket and a few minutes out of our lives gave us a chance to be the hands of Jesus to people who desperately need to know our savior.  

 Jason is married to Joy and together they live as missionaries in Downtown Orlando. Jason loves cigars, spicy food and football any night of the week. He dreams of churches that meet in unlikely place like cigar lounges and bars. Because if Jesus ate with sinners why shouldn't we?

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