2 Samuel 17:26-28
The Israelites and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.
When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, ‘The troops are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.’
Imagine, traveling a dusty road for days. You’ve lost those who were your friends and family in the midst of war. You are in land that isn’t yours. Perhaps it is land that was taken by a foreign government believing your leader has been mistakenly removed. Perhaps it is land that you were forced onto because you were different than those with power. Perhaps, it is land set aside for those who have none of their own.
Seems hopeless. Seems lonely.
A person so different from you, identifies you as a fellow human being. Someone worthy of care and attention. You are brought water to wash your feet with. You are brought a bed to rest in. You are brought a meal to nourish your body.
Grace in the midst of chaos. Love in the midst of war.
This is the story that gave its name to our ministry. A good story. A story to give us hope.
Shobi’s Table has been growing, changing and coming into being. Our news is exciting.
About a year ago, we were nudged with an idea that a food truck bringing a good meal and worship to the streets of the St Paul Area Synod would be a good idea. Of course, like all big ideas, it seemed, big.
We were nudged with this idea, because we know four things:
People in poverty lack access to consistent transportation.
People in poverty lack access to healthy, fresh food.
People in poverty lack access to community building.
People in poverty lack opportunities for meaningful work.
How do we respond to this knowledge?
Mobile church makes sense. It makes sense to take a congregation on the road and bring church to those with limited access to transportation. Let’s bring church to the people!
My background is in mental health. I have witnessed people who live on fixed incomes struggling with mental illness. There are medications that are prescribed for serious mental illness that cause diabetes and heart disease. These are diseases that can be controlled, in part, by access to healthy food. Healthy food is difficult to access if you have limited incomes. We can increase access with a truck. Let’s get one!
Again, my experience working among people in poverty has indicated that there are opportunities for treatment, for workforce training if someone can work 20 hours a week, and for medical care. There are very few opportunities for people to be in meaningful, mutual relationships with one another. This what church does and can do well. Let’s build community where the people are!
We also know that there are lots of people who aren’t able to work the typical 20-40 hours a week. This does not mean that they cannot work. It means that we need to understand vocation differently. Let’s call people to engage in meaningful work alongside community. Let’s cook a meal together that we eat together.
And so, we have a food truck that is a congregation. We have a mobile community that people can take ownership of. Increased access to food that is cooked and served by those who need the increased access. This is empowerment. This is christian community.
We were called by the Holy Spirit. We are being sent out. Stay tuned for more of our story. We are excited to share it with you.