Friendship Over Rice and Beans

It seemed like the beginning of an ordinary Sabbath day. We drove the 50 minutes to our small church to arrive early. My husband dropped me off and, as usual, continued on to a church member’s house to see if anyone needed a ride.

Alone at the church, I busied myself with various tasks, turned on 3ABN, and was folding the morning’s bulletins. I heard the front door open and shut. Since I hadn’t heard or seen a car drive past the church windows, I nervously walked to the foyer to see if anyone might be there.

A man wearing a black cowboy hat and a white shirt with blue jeans and cowboy boots stood there.

“May I help you?” I asked cautiously.

“I’ve come to attend church,” he said.

During the service I thought about this visitor, whose name was Howard. Did he need a place to go to for dinner? Would anyone invite him? Maybe we should invite him, but we live so far from the church! Besides, I argued with myself, I don’t have anything special prepared to serve to company.

When the service was over, my conscience was a bit relieved to realize that Howard had left. But my husband mentioned that we should have asked him over for dinner. We soon left for home, but at a nearby intersection my husband suddenly asked, “Isn’t that the visitor?” He pointed to a vehicle crossing in front of us. Making our turn, we followed and decided it was Howard.

Again my husband mentioned inviting him over for dinner. My thoughts screamed “No,” but my heart told me that the Lord was giving me another chance. I quickly said yes. We caught up with Howard, driving alongside his car. My husband began making motions from a pretend plate up to his mouth as if eating, and then pointing to ourselves. Howard began nodding, so we pulled in front for him to follow us home. His car began having trouble, so he parked beside the road and got into the car with us.

Arriving home, I nervously began laying out what I had planned for our simple dinner. Brown rice, black beans, some fresh and cooked vegetables, and home-baked bread. It was nothing special.

Howard gave himself generous helpings and said that his favorite food was beans and rice. What I had been afraid to serve to company was just what this man enjoyed eating. God was wanting me to share even the ordinary, simple things with others.

On the drive back to get his car, Howard told my husband that he had become acquainted with Adventists when he became friends with a man who was a church member. The Adventist friend moved away, so Howard made a trip to visit him in another state. Through this friendship he made the decision to join the church. But when he returned home and attended the local Adventist church, he didn’t find the friendship that he craved, so he quit going. He was in our state visiting relatives and decided to attend our church this particular Sabbath.

Was I ever glad, then, that we had extended the hand of hospitality to this stranger, regardless of whether I felt prepared to entertain!

“And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand?” (Exodus 4:2).

By Valerie Hamel Morikone

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