A year and a half ago, my husband and I experienced the joy of becoming parents. As a new mom, I felt like there were so many things to learn, on top of uncertainties and new concerns as a first-time Mom. And while those concerns were piling up, my husband and I were relieved in another area. Our church family orchestrated meals for us so the “what should we eat tonight?” question was always answered.
This sleep-deprived, covered-in-spit-up, cries-for-no-reason mom felt grateful for every prepared or delivered meal, but there was one meal from the hazy newborn stage that a couple from our community group delivered at a time I needed it the most. As I opened the neatly packaged containers, something caught my eye. Handwritten on each lid I opened was a Bible verse. And although I don’t remember the exact verses, the Lord used my sister in Christ to encourage my postpartum and emotionally struggling heart and mind at that moment. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the Lord would minister to me through a casserole, but it happened by filling my belly with delicious food and pointing me back to Scriptural truth.
After being on the receiving end of a meal ministry, I can see so clearly how God, through a body of believers, can use a simple meal, an encouraging word, and a smile when it’s dropped off at the door to encourage a weary soul. Whether it’s to a family welcoming a new baby, one who has just lost a loved one, or someone who could just use some encouragement, there is always room to minister in this way.
You know, Jesus did this several times in His ministry. In Matthew 14 and again in Matthew 15, we see where Jesus used food to minister to a crowd through the miracle of feeding thousands with just a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. Providing the crowd a meal was a way for Jesus to show compassion and draw them to Him.
Now, we as believers have the same opportunity when it comes to pointing others to Christ. When we meet a need, like providing a meal, we are being the hands and feet of Jesus, showing the love He has for each of us. The care, time, and sustenance point back to what He did for us on the cross. (I bet those ingredients aren’t written on the back of your grandma’s recipe cards!) We have an exciting opportunity to further the gospel through a simple meal.
If this is something you feel led to do but don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions:
- Identify a family or individual you feel the Lord has laid on your heart to minister to.
- Next, find your organizer. If organizing is not in your wheelhouse, find that sister in Christ who is great with details and loves to love on people. You can make an old-fashioned sign-up sheet with dates and times and a spot for people to sign up to bring a meal. Or there is a free online service from mealtrain.com that is a meal sign-up calendar, and it’s free! There are options to send gift cards for meals or meal services on this website as well, and it even sends the organizer and the person who signed up a reminder to their email inboxes. There is also a link to share the sign-up with your community group, to post on social media, and with others through messaging.
- Alternatively, there are so many food delivery services. Even if you have a friend or family member who doesn’t live in your city, you can still bless him or her with a meal. Or you could call one of their favorite local spots and call it in for them so they can just swing by and grab it!
Could I challenge you with one more thing? Be open to how the Lord would move. Get creative and love on others in a way that’s big or small. If the Lord lays someone on your heart, text or call to ask the person to ask if you could bring supper over on Tuesday. Then do it! It doesn’t have to be a group effort; it can just be your individual ministry that you feel like the Lord is calling you to.
And what about our neighbors? Maybe they don’t go to your church (or any church at all). Meal ministry isn’t just for believers to love on believers (even though we are called to do that); it’s also a way to reach the lost. Can you imagine an entire family coming to know the Lord because their neighbor provided a meal for them after a relative passed away? We see that in Scripture people are shown the love of Christ through their needs being met. Then, they encounter Jesus, and their lives are changed forever. In Scripture, Jesus performed the miracle, but He asked the disciples to be the ones to hand out the food. As believers, we are equipped with the Holy Spirit. We need to be willing, hand out the food, and watch Jesus do the miracle of changing lives.
Whitley Lent is a Lifeway Women trainer, blogger, and former girls’ minister. She lives in rural Western Oklahoma with her husband, Clay, son Shepherd, and their growing number of animals on their fifth-generation family farm. Whitley is passionate about helping women, young and old, grow deeper in their walk with Christ, sharing her love for flowers, and being a stay-at-home mom.