I literally met Christ for the first time over a lunch box. Year 2004, spring time. Actually it was over a lunch table, but the end goal was the same. I attended the Chino Brazilian SDA church several weeks just to enjoy their “worldly-famous” potluck (a.k.a. rice and beans). After weeks had gone by, I finally decided to give God a chance. It happened through the Sabbath School. True, my main goal initially was only to survive until lunch time, not to learn about the Bible (first goal actually was to start dating Lilly). After all, life in another country is not very easy in the beginning. Weeks had already passed by and I was already missing terribly the three “F’s” any immigrant know really well: Family, Friends and Food… most urgently FOOD of course.
Bottom line: my goal was simply to make it thru potluck to enjoy lunch. So Lilly (soon-to-be-girlfriend-now-wife) would faithfully give me a ride to church every Saturday, which led to other important historical events that I won’t cover here :-).
We would get there at 9:30. Potluck wouldn’t start until 12:30pm. So I had no choice. Lots of time to kill. Since I had to wait anyway, I decided to wait inside because of the air conditioner.
Then the Sabbath school teachers (Omar, Gustavo, Melissa, Patricia, Van) would always invited me in… and I would listen, curiously..
How could these people talk about this stuff as if it really had happened? “God creating the world in 7 days”, “Jesus life, death and resurrection???”,”life in the spirit”… these all seem very dull ideas to me at that time… but I had to make it thru lunch, so I engaged, just to kill time… weeks have passed, months have passed.. years now.
Three “F’s” any immigrant would really miss: Family, Friends and Food
From Sabbath school “student”, I was invited to pray at the beginning, then to share the devotionals, then to teach the lessons and finally to become the Sabbath School director. All that was instrumental to lead me to my baptism in late 2005. All that started because of the lunch table. “Rice-and-Beans” ministry! Never fails!!!
This story came back to my memory today. 11 years later. I started and stopped a bunch of things at church, specially after two kids.. but I never, never, stopped with the Sabbath School. True, I’ve been through peaks and valleys with that, but that had always been the “last link” to kept me engaged with God and the Bible.
Of course, there are various challenges with the Sabbath school. Of course, not everyone attends any more. Of course, those who attend rarely study the lesson anymore. When I get ready to give up, the words of Peter come to mind, in 2 Peter 1:2:
“ Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”
Grace and peace are free gifts from God. To have it in abundance, however, we need to engage in knowledge. Not academic knowledge necessarily, but a experiential one. Knowledge that engages real life with scripture. Knowledge that seeks to experience, understand and endure life’s hardships through the lens of scripture.
Sabbath School is a weekly space where this knowledge may be generated through the Holy Spirit. So, despite all challenges, the space is always there: 9:30 to 10:30, worldwide.. Everyone have the same opportunity to engage in learning more deeply about God. Some may say this ministry is dead. I completely disagree!!! Some say that Sabbath school works only for the older adults. I couldn’t disagree more.
I truly believe it in this ministry. I’ve seen it impacts people, over and over again…that’s the same ministry used by the Holy Spirit to break 30 years of secularism in my life and give me Grace and Peace in abundance. Of course, I had already experienced some degree of Grace and Peace in my life before Christ… and I praise God for that! But now, after the Sabbath School, after accepting this new live, I feel I have received Grace and Peace in the abundance promised by scripture.
That’s the reason for LunchBoxSabbathschool.org.
My prayer is that God uses this blog as an instrument to bring about Grace and Peace in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
More to come…