Read: Luke 10:8-9
Eat what is set before you. (v. 8)
Many mission trips focus on work. The participants want to get things done, concentrating on the results: the number of houses built, teeth fixed, cataracts removed, or decisions for Christ. Having only a week for ministry, the teams rush to the healing and preaching of verse 9, missing the receiving and eating of verse 8. Human flourishing and eternal salvation are crucial, but they cannot be achieved without relationship.
Jesus’ instructions for ministry have a distinct order. Earnest prayer precedes our going (v. 2). Simplicity of travel characterizes our expectations (v. 4). Peace defines our demeanor and is our first offer (v. 5). Then comes eating (v. 8). Over a meal we learn each other’s stories. We hear what joys and sorrows frame our lives. From this relationship springs ministry that offers healing and salvation.
I learned this from Bishop Wilson in Kitgum, Uganda. Our team drove more than twelve grueling hours to his community just a few kilometers from South Sudan. Arriving well past sunset, we simply wanted rest so we could rise and preach what we had prepared. Upon reaching his home however, we found a meal prepared. For the next two hours, we lingered under the stars and listened to each other. We heard how the trauma of war and violence impacted their lives. This transformed how we spoke and ministered the next day, making our time together far more effective. If we hadn’t eaten together, meaningful ministry wouldn’t have happened.
As you pray, ask God who you need to dine with.
About the Author
Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.