Mar 9, 2017

A Bowl of Esteemed Rice

esteem: to regard highly or favorably; regard with respect or admiration,  to consider as of a certain value or of a certain type; regard with a favorable opinion or judgment; respect 

The request was simple from a young man one Sunday after church; “Could you and Cathy come with me to my apartment complex and pray for a woman who is ill?” He was new to our church and spoke ‘broken’ English and was standing with his parents (who spoke no English).

One look at the eyes of his parents and my heart was moved. There was something about the tenderness and kindness that seemed to radiate from their hearts and was made manifest in their faces.

They were Bhutanese refugees who came to the USA from Nepal and were trying to make a new life for themselves in Minnesota.

Bhutan is the smallest state in Asia and is located in the Eastern Himalayan mountain range; bordered by China in the north and India in the south. Bhutanese people were forcefully expelled from Bhutan and lived in Nepal.

It was obvious to me that this couple and their son had deep love and concern for this woman who we had not yet met. And, because our schedule was open, we said yes.

The trip from church was short and so we soon arrived at the apartment complex and were quickly ushered through a maze of hallways into an apartment to meet the woman in need of prayer. She, too, only spoke Nepali or the Bhutanese language, so prayer had to be totally relying on the Spirit of God.

We prayed for her, anointed her with oil, and stood up wondering what to do next. As quickly as we were ushered into her apartment, we were taken to another apartment where we met another person who also was requesting prayer; which we did again wondering what was next.

Once again, we were led to another apartment, which turned out to be the home of the family from church. In the kitchen were other friends of theirs who were cooking some food. They motioned for us to sit down at a small table for two. Their son asked if we would have something to eat; we said ‘yes’.

We sat down at the small table, our knees touched each other’s and almost immediately bowls of steamed rice and meat were placed before us. We thanked them for the food and started to eat.

I looked around and noticed that we were the only ones eating. We motioned for them to eat; they motioned for us to continue as though they were content with watching us eat, so we did, feeling awkward at our predicament.

It seemed to me as though each time we would eat something, our bowls were once again filled back up. In short time, I realized that the food that they were feeding us was all that they had and that if I continued to eat, there would be none for them to eat.

I pressed my knees into Cathy and whispered to her my observation stating that I wasn’t comfortable with what was going on and that I wasn’t going to eat anymore because it wouldn’t be right.

Cathy had already realized the same thing and whispered to me that to NOT eat would be worse than to eat all their food. It was a matter of honoring their desire to esteem us by serving us their steamed rice and meat.

We continued to eat; they continued to fill our bowls as tears filled my eyes as I pondered this culture of honor that was being shown to us.

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV)

They eventually let us stop and then they ate; and yes, all were fed. We said our goodbyes and made our way back home as I pondered what it felt like to be the recipients of being esteemed above someone else as I remembered the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said; “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (see Acts 20:35)
So, who is God calling you to esteem today?  Who is He asking you to reach out today and regard highly or favorably with respect and admiration.

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