"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:
- Gathered information.
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."
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.