Friday, March 9, 2012

Around the Table Goes Live in Fiji

When we were planning our recent (as in I'm not over jet lag) ECS Ministries trip to Oceania and the South Pacific, I received an email from the wife of the Emmaus Bible Course Director from Fiji. 
"I read about your book! Could you give a talk to our women about it when you are here?"
Of course, I said, "Yes."
Then I wondered about what I'd done. Eating together as a family is not a biblical mandate and it is not done in all cultures. Is this something I should stand up and teach about on the other side of the world?

So I did what one should do any time one is giving a talk:

  1. Prayed.
  2. Gathered information.
I have a friend of Indian decent who was born in Fiji, so I wrote her and asked some cultural questions. She gave me great advice, "Present your ideas, but don't push them."
As I was preparing for the talk, I looked at mealtimes in the Bible and discovered there are quite a few, each having a lesson for mealtimes (among the many other things we can learn from each scene.) For example:

  • Abraham serving the strangers who turned out to be angels and the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 18). Hebrews 13:2 uses this as an obvious example of hospitality to people we don't know.
  • Joseph serving his brothers from his own table in Egypt (Genesis 43) shows us how eating together can break down defenses.
  • Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9) is a demonstration that eating together can be a time of evangelism.
  • The believers taking their meals together (Acts 2) points to the value and necessity of fellowship which can be accomplished when we eat together.

But the table that really spoke to me, was the very familiar one in Psalm 23:

"You prepare a table before me
 in the presence of my enemies." 
Almost each word spoke to me, but what I wanted to present to these ladies was how our meal times, or our family times, need to be a place of safety for our children. The world out there is our enemy. At home, our children need to feel safe to be themselves, to ask questions, to come to an understanding of what the Bible teaches without being lectured at. 

I told stories of families I know in several different countries to illustrate my point. I told the ladies I was not there to tell them "This is how we do it in America and therefore you must do it this way, too."
Afterwards the women bought all nine copies of the book that I had left and promised they would share them around. 

One woman said she thought that this was a topic they should have taught at their annual interchurch ladies retreat.

Several thanked me for being so practical and giving them so many ideas. 
I thank God that He reaches across oceans and cultures to touch people's lives and that somehow, that day, He used me to speak to Fijians of Indian and Fijian decent. God has called these people to Himself and wants them to pass this knowledge, this true life, onto their children. May my words have been an encouragement in this.


  1. You book has been a inspiration to many of us who heard you in Fiji speak the other week.I'm putting it into practice, thinking about how to make that meal time a special time for me with each family member. Amazingly- I am doing less talking, more listening, meal times are longer as we are enjoying it together, seeing each one feel free and take time out from TV- its great.

    Mere Goundar
    Samabula Gospel Chapel
    Fiji Islands

    1. Mere,

      I'm so sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to you and hope you are feeling better!

      Your words are an example to me, too, to speak less, listen more!

      Thank you for your encouragement!

    2. Likewise.

      I gave your book to a sister who has only recently started coming to church with her kids and she enjoyed it greatly. So rest assured, the book is doing its rounds.

      For his glory.


  2. Jim, Thanks for sharing this here. I passed it on to Nancy Now that she has her own Nook. I go her one for her Birthday and she loves it.



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