Pass the Dumas Please

There are few things in the world that generates more excitement in my life than an opportunity to eat. Going on picnics is a bonus. I do not know if it is the fried chicken or the deviled eggs or chasing yellow jackets, but I enjoy a picnic. When you think about it, what is so great about eating outside? Unless you are an etymologist, few people want to eat their food in the company of ants and flying creatures. The picnics I like best are the ones that are shared in the company of others.

Ten or so years ago I attended one of the most interesting picnics ever in my life. Instead of hearing phrases like, “pass the fried chicken” or, “put another hot dog on the grill”, I heard remarks like, “falafel anyone?” and, “would you like some more dumas?” The red clay and pine thicket of a campground on Lake Allatoona was transformed into a little Kurdistan. I was part of the Georgia Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s effort to resettle Kurdish refugees, and all the participating churches hosted a picnic for our guests. Everyone was invited, but our special guests were our Kurdish friends. There were more than 200 Kurds attending this great picnic.

Some of the Kurdish families had not seen one another for some time because their persecution in Iraq had separated families and friends. You can imagine the joyous reunion many of them shared at our picnic. Perhaps this was a small example of what Jesus meant when he prayed, “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” On a hot, Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer I was a small part of God’s realm on earth.

Church is about setting a table for the world. When we support missionaries around the globe or send out mission teams to provide dental care or volunteer time at the Augusta Urban Mission we are setting a table and inviting the world to join us. Throughout the Bible banquets and feasting are used to describe God’s redemption. Through missions we feed the hungry, provide water for the thirsty, and hope for the searching. We do this through contributions, prayers, and presence. Missions is not a program but a way of life for God’s people. In fact, missions is a privilege, life being invited to a picnic or a feast.

As we enter a new school year and a new season of Bible Study, mission, and worship, may we be faithful and attentive in joining in the feast and inviting others to do the same.

Grace and Peace,

Greg