Transformational Travel (Part 4):The Table

Eating on short-term trips may be the most important thing you do.

Hear this loud and clear. Eating food in homes of people in your short-term target location may be the most important thing you do to show them love and to receive love from them.

Let me say it again in a different way. We can’t emphasize enough how important eating with local people is. Here’s the reason it’s important. It’s important because Jesus did it over and over in his ministry. We do what Jesus did, including eating food we may not like.

You’d be surprised at how many times Jesus ministers at the table. Do you think that Jesus turned his nose up at food that people sat in front of him? Can you picture Jesus doing that? Or do you picture Jesus graciously accepting food from humble servants in homes throughout Judea and Samaria?

Perhaps you will only have one or two opportunities to sit at someone’s table. Realize that local people anticipate this for months. They are usually scraping together money and food to prepare a meal for their first-ever international visitors. Typically, they want to please you. They are excited about their visitors. They will be extremely disappointed if they don’t get to talk with you, share food with you. They would be crushed if they thought you didn’t like their food.

You may not think you are doing something offensive by making a face, whispering to your friend, making eyes across the table, laughing loudly, but these are cues that anyone can pick up in any language! Imagine how you would feel if someone came to your house and you’d saved your Christmas and birthday money and allowances and spent it on food for a feast for a group of foreign exchange students.

What if these visitors came to your house, spoke no English to you, not even “thank you” at the end of the meal, broke out some cheese and crackers from their backpacks, and left all but a few bites on the table (and those bites were left in the napkins). So you might begin to imagine how it would feel to someone who sacrifices from their meager financial means to feed you and you bring your own peanut butter and crackers, barely touch what they offer, or turn up your nose.

What if you could sit with Jesus at the table and learn from him how to act when you sit at the tables in homes of people in your target mission location?

Later in the week, I’ll post more about Jesus’ table ministry related to short-term trips.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

3 comments on “Transformational Travel (Part 4):The Table

  1. Sounds like someone has been “dwelling in the word!”

    From more than few of the people I spoke with last weekend, this idea of being recipients of other’s hospitality, instead of thinking of ourselves as providers, stuck out.

    You’re right. This is a very transformational aspect of travel. And as one who has eaten boiled goat and peanut sauce (but with peanut butter crackers in my backpack!), it is a very challenging reminder.


  2. It’s one of the more challenging aspects. Most visitors we have are so cautious when eating with the locals (doesn’t helpt that the CDC and every travel service recommends NOT eating the local food!) I remember my first bites of local African flare…literally felt like I was going to chunk it all up! Now 8 years later, it’s so familiar, and while not my meal of choice, it’s a lot harder to watch short-termers get so freaked out by it. Honestly (and I’ve certainly been guilty) it’s the time when our selfish nature shines through the most. Heaven forbid we have to let a little strange food pass through our mouth even though we offend those who spent a months’ pay on the feast. Had one visitor once turn her nose up to the chicken morsels and tried to speak in broken English to an African, “I’m sorry, I only eat boneless, skinless chicken breast.” I never wanted to crawl under the table more (tried to cover for her in the translation when the local asked me what she meant…tried my best to not make her look stupid and selfish). Great material here!


  3. If people could only realize how important this is. We had visitors, otherwise wonderful people, refuse served at OUR table–and everyone acknowledges tht my wife is a wonderful cook. My momma didn’t raise me that way. It seems that some people are so spoiled for choice that they don’t realize what a blessing it is just to have food to eat.


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