Updated: Jun 22, 2020
"So they ate, and were filled..." Mark 8:8
It is fascinating how often food is mentioned in scripture. It is such an important part of our life. Beyond its most basic function as life-giving sustenance, food is also an integral part of our lives and culture. Food is emotional. It is also quite social.
Food also appears quite prominently in scripture. From our separation from God when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, to the fulfillment of our restoration to Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb, food is not only an integral part of the story of humanity, but also of mankind's relationship with God.
It is no coincidence then, that food appears so often in relation to ministry in the Bible. If you will notice, a great deal of the recorded earthly ministry of Jesus happened around a communal meal. From his first recorded miracle at the wedding feast, to the miracles of the loaves and fishes, and many, many other recorded examples, Jesus recognized the role of food in ministry.
When we break bread together, we are more open to one another. We will share our hearts and receive others more easily as we eat together. There is a certain warmth and fellowship that exists around a meal that is hard to find in other circumstances. For this reason, we have made meals an integral part of our ministry. From Bible studies to fellowships to simply hosting individual students for dinners, we have found that when we feed people, they are open to our friendship, our fellowship, and, most importantly, to the Word of God.
This is such an important part of ministry that is often overlooked. In our opinion, it is especially important in our ministry to international students. As we welcome them into our homes and into our hearts, it expresses our care and concern for them in a tangible way. They become much more open to the Gospel, as it is not only heard, but also experienced as an expression of genuine love. This is also true of our experience in the Muslim world, where hospitality is such a fundamental part of culture. In fact, we have found this to be true in most contexts; ministry often happens over a meal.
Don't forget about the importance of food and of hospitality to your witness. Are you praying for opportunities to witness to someone? Start by inviting them to a meal! As we enjoy earthly bread, it opens up opportunities to share the Bread of Life!
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