Love Around the Table (from Special Chicago Edition)

Being a part of the I-58 Navs ministry, I have the opportunity to serve among communities experiencing consequences of injustice, oppression, and poverty. In Isaiah 58, the Lord appeals to His people to take a stand with the oppressed, to help the poor, and to feed the hungry. It’s love around the table.

My story is just a glimpse of how The Navigators are serving in neighborhoods all over the U.S.

Niwana and I met when she came to a discussion group I was leading for women who were transitioning from homelessness. They lived in a building in my neighborhood. Every other week we would read a story from the Gospels and look at Jesus—what He said, what He did, how folks responded—and then ask what does this mean for us. Soon it became clear that Niwana was serious about leaving her addiction and her old way of life and learning to be a Christ follower.

We have been meeting regularly now for about seven months to study the Bible together more in-depth. Recently we were reading John 20. We noticed the ways Jesus appeared to His disciples after His crucifixion and especially how He took care to revisit the disciples for the sake of Thomas who was not in the room the first time and did not believe that they had seen the Lord. Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Niwana’s thoughts went to times in her life where she had trusted Christ, but had turned back. However, we celebrated together that she has chosen to follow Jesus now and is alive with new life. She recently joined a home church and is taking steps to grow in her faith.

Niwana and I are beginning an initiative we are calling, “Love Around the Table.” We are inviting a few people from church once a month to gather around the table in my apartment for food: food for the soul, food for thought, and food for the stomach. Niwana will be cooking which gives her opportunity to share her love for people by sharing her love of cooking. Niwana said, “Thank God for giving me an assignment. This is right up my alley! It will help me get more affiliated with my new church family.”

Our scriptural reason is simple: “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). At the beginning of each month we have decided to pray and ask the Lord who we should invite to dinner. Our kick-off meal went well with two ladies from the church. Niwana’s observation after the sharing of life-stories around the table was that you never know what another person is going through until you take the time to get to know them.

I am praying that this time of breaking bread together with other believers and the sharing of our lives and His Word will help Niwana become more connected at church and grow in her confidence that she has something to contribute to the Body of Christ.

For more information on I-58 Navs visit I-58navs.org

three people reading Bibles

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