Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rice Nights

Sitting at a wedding last fall, I listened as friends described a mission conference their church had just finished hosting.  One of the nights a meal was going to be served, and there were many different ethnic foods displayed, but when it came time to eat, the only thing served was. . . rice. 

One bowl.

Our friends described the shock and underlying surprise of the attendees who didn't expect to be served rice;  and the impact that this rice meal had was great as the leaders went on to explain the reality of hunger and poverty that Americans just don't comprehend.

Can you imagine your daily meal being a bowl of rice?

This idea, of serving rice and thinking about how the other half lives, stayed with me and in January we implemented our very first rice night.

We served rice and water, that's all, googled some world hunger facts [that were frankly, staggering], and then each week we've followed our own little youtube video trail searching relief, World Vision, Compassion, children and poverty.

Did you know that every five seconds a child dies from hunger related causes?

It has been eye opening for our kids.  I love that they're seeing another side of compassion;  our family has focused on grief so much that sometimes its easy to forget that there are many more needs out there in the wild cruel world. 

On a teaching note, the geography absorbed is phenomenal, because the kids like to see where the stories are coming from.  Last week we were watching something about a little boy in Niger and Jacob piped up oh, yeah, that's right below Algeria.  I, of course, had no idea if that's true cuz my world geography is pathetic, so I snuck over to the globe to see if he was right. . . yeah, he was.  ;)

And it keeps reality in view.

We've been given so much.  Most of us have no idea what hunger truly is, what famine and poverty and water shortage really look like. 

This was a rice + lentils night. :)

Then we ran across this great organization when our friend Rachel married Jonathan, the operations director for Live58.  We were intrigued by the line Live 58. . . a challenge to believers to live Isaiah 58.  Daniel looked it up via YouVersion and read aloud from the NLT to me:

“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel of their sins!
Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.

“Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
We were both a bit stunned by the directness clarity of these words, humbled to realize that often our lights as believers are clouded because of our selfishness and the modern day equivalents of fasting to please ourselves can mysteriously look like
squabbling over sunday school room placements
righteous indignation over music preferences
endless critiques of public Christian leaders
proving that my philosophy of ministry/outreach is better than yours
how this must grieve the heart of God.
For us, these little rice nights have been a tiny step in a direction of opening our children's eyes to the real, physical needs of little ones around the world. 
I pray that God breaks my children's hearts for a world in need of Him, the living Water and Bread of Life.


  1. I loved reading this tonight. I love where your heart is. It reminds me of a book some friends have recommended to me (which I haven't read yet) about a woman who simplified her life and only allowed herself seven of each thing for a month at a time ... only seven foods this month, only seven articles of clothing the next month. I wish I remembered the name! I want somehow to escape all this consumerism/materialism and just live more simply and more generously ... trying to take baby steps to get there.

    1. Lisa, I think the book is Seven, by Jen Hatmaker. It's on my list of interesting future reads. :)

    2. awesome, awesome book. just sayin' :)

  2. the way you guys parent is so inspiring. i am thankful i can watch you from afar.


  3. I just wanted to chime in. I am actually reading that book right now and my bible studying is doing the bible study that accompanies it. I have actually been struggling to figure out what kind of food fast I am going to do next week. I read Isaih 58 this week and to see it here again just makes me think God is trying to tell me something.

    On a side note, I love your blog. Thank you for sharing your heart, faith and honest words with us!