By: Paul Borthwick
Paul serves on the staff of Development Associates International and teaches missions at Gordon College, as well as, serves as an Urbana/ Missions Associate with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
Christie and I sat in Arima, Trinidad sharing a meal at the table of our friends Ashoke and Stephanie Bachew. We were talking about the divide between the rich and the poor – in their country, and in every country. Ashoke responded, “If you come to my house and you eat at my table, then we are friends, then we are equals.”
Economics was not the issue. The issue is what biblical scholars calls “Table Fellowship,” a shared meal which communicates that our fellowship together supersedes our cultural or national or financial or gender or age or even linguistic differences.
Sharing a meal says “I value you. We are equals. I will receive your hospitality and I ask you to receive mine.” In cross-cultural settings it says, “I value our friendship so much that I’ll trust you and take the risk and eat the food you have prepared for me – food that might be quite unfamiliar to me.”
Cross-cultural table fellowship taught the Gentile Cornelius that the God of the Jews had heard his prayers. That same table fellowship taught Peter that his God was not bound to Peter’s cultural traditions nor did He show favoritism to Peter’s ethnic group (Acts 10). Table fellowship can change the way we look at ourselves, the way we look at others, and the way we look at God.
At the conclusion of a seminar in Ibadan, Nigeria, I was asking the participants what they valued most about the week we had spent together. I suppose I was hoping to hear accolades about my teaching or some profound response I had made. One of the pastors observed that the best part of the week was: “You came to our place, you sat with us at meals, and you ate our food with us.”
Show your table! Share a meal with someone from a different culture, faith, or way of life — and thenupload a photo from the meal. The pictures uploaded will be used in an art installation at Urbana 12!