Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Preparing for Thanksgiving: We Have So Much

Mother: “Eat your food, there are children starving in Africa.”
Child: “You can send them this food.”

Did your parents ever tell you about the starving children in Africa (or China or North Korea) to get you to eat? Even if you didn’t voice the answer above, maybe you thought it.

But the truth of the matter is 

  • At least 17 million children suffer from severe acute undernutrition around the world: severe acute malnutrition is the direct cause of death for about 1 million children every year.
  • 815 million people--one in nine--still go to bed on an empty stomach each night.

  • We have so much abundance that we have to limit ourselves so that we do not gain weight. We can begin this Thanksgiving season by eating famine portions one night and experiencing what many people in the world experience on a daily basis. 

    A few years back I watched this video in a seminar given by Nate Bramsen and his father Paul Bramsen.

    I talked with Paul and his wife Carol afterward. The food given to these people might be all they had for several days so you can imagine why they were cheering when they saw the vehicles arrive! The boy you see Nate Bramsen pass over his head into the window was from a mother who wanted to make sure at least one of her children received some food. The mother herself was skin and bones.

    I have been hungry, probably because I hadn’t eaten in five or six…hours. There may have been a time in my life when I’ve gone longer without food, but I can’t think of when. In fact, for the last 25 years I’ve had hypoglycemia so I’m supposed to eat a little protein every two to three hours—and I usually make sure I do.

    Probably most of you reading this are like me, and your children also have no idea what it’s like to go to bed hungry even one night, let alone night after night. (Unless you’ve sent them away from the table for some reason, but that’s a different topic.) They might not realize why we should be thankful for every meal we have every day.

    So here’s the idea: Have a famine dinner.

    • Below is a basic recipe for lentils and rice for four people. Make this recipe for dinner one night.
    • Before you eat show them the three minute video and explain to them that these hundreds of children were so excited to get this rice and protein sauce meal—called a “manna pack”—because they had not eaten a meal in days 
    • Then have each one give thanks that they have plenty of food to eat every day.
    • Bring out the lentils and rice and divide among you. Tell them this is something like what these North African children would get, hopefully once a day. In non-famine times, perhaps they would get this twice a day.
    • Do not supplement this meal or serve dessert. 
    • If your children complain that they don't like the food, don't offer other food. One night of not eating will not hurt them. You can decide whether the rest of you should share what they don't want or you can save it for them to eat if they are hungry later.
    • Ask your children how they feel. They may still be hungry. Explain that there are thousands of children in the world who will go to bed hungry tonight and some of them will never wake up. 
    • Now tell them that 99% of the children they saw in the video are Muslims and have never even heard of Jesus. These children need our prayers that they will live long enough to hear the gospel and that they will believe it.
    • Here's why Christians feed starving Muslims: 50% of Muslims who have come to Christ have come because they saw Christians demonstrate God's love.
    • Spend some family time praying for the children of Niger and in many North African countries who don’t know about Jesus. Pray that the gospel will reach them in some way. Pray for the salvation of Muslims everywhere.
    • If your children come to you later and say they are hungry, tell them to use tonight’s hunger as a reminder to pray for the Muslim children who don’t have enough food and who don’t know Jesus. And take a minute to pray with your child right then. Then remind them that when they wake up, they can have breakfast, but those children probably won’t.

    For more information write to:
    Rock International

    North African Famine Recipe (serves four)
    ½ cup lentils
    2 ½ cups water, divided
    1  tsp salt, divided
    ½ cup rice
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
    ½ tsp pepper

    1 large onion, halved and then thinly sliced to form semi-circles
    2 Tbsp olive oil
    1 clove garlic, minced

    Place lentils in large pot in 1 ½ cups water with ½ tsp salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 hour till tender but intact. When done drain and set aside.

    Meanwhile in another pot heat oil and fry rice over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup water and ½ tsp. salt. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer over low heat 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat and uncover.

    In a non-stick frying pan prepare seasoning by heating the oil over medium high heat. Add onions and fry until golden. Stir in garlic and cook a minute longer, stirring continuously. Stir in diced tomatoes with liquid and pepper.

    Stir cooked lentils and rice together in large pot. Add seasoning mixture and stir together, cooking over low heat for 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

    For added authenticity, serve into shallow bowls and eat with your hands like the children in the video—but be sure it’s cool enough to touch!

    For printable version of the recipe click here.

    This would work for youth groups, Sunday School classes and even whole church dinners! 

    If you do this, please write to me and let me know how it went. Include photos!

    For more unique ideas to prepare for the holidays, click here for a Thanksgiving Challenge and here for a the things I did right last year for the holidays.

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    1. This is a fantastic idea! I LOVE this! My boys are a bit too young (2.5 yrs old) to do this with them just yet, but I am pinning this and sharing on my FB page!!! Thanks for sharing this! :)

    2. This is a great conversation starter for missions! It's important to also share that though food may be given, the gospel still might not be accepted. It's a hard truth but it's reality (saying this from the other side of the world).

      1. SAdly true, but it gives an opportunity that might not otherwise be gotten.



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