In the book of Isaiah, heaven is described as “a feast of rich food for all peoples” (25:6). Some cultures do their very best to recreate this extravagant hospitality on earth.
You Prepare a Table for Me
“Boldi, boldi,” Amangul says impatiently to her mom. I look at Amangul blankly. When she’s with her mother, Amangul speaks a local dialect, and I don’t understand.
Amangul clarifies. “My mom wants to know if I have prepared enough food for you and the others. She’s been asking me this same question all day.
For her, guests are almost like… what’s the right word? Like angels. An ordinary effort just won’t be enough.”
Six guests, we sit on stuffed cotton mats around the traditional low table, making polite conversation, snacking on a wide variety of dried fruits and nuts. We represent five different ethnic groups, five different native languages. What could we have in common to talk about?
Amangul breaks into our empty discussion with a big plate of rice mixed together with vegetables and meat. Soon after comes a tray filled with fist-sized chunks of mutton, followed by vegetables and more meat. Soon, the table space is completely filled, but Amangul isn’t finished. “Big Plate Chicken”, she announces, placing an even bigger plate in the center. No kidding, I think to myself. It’s huge.
I pause for a moment to take things in. Amangul prepared water to wash my hands, cardamom tea to quench my thirst, and a table literally overflowing with snacks, bread and incredible food. Maybe her mother’s comparison of guests and angels isn’t so far off. My taste buds are certainly dancing with a heavenly kind of joy.
“What do you think?” one of the others interrupts my reverie, drawing me back into the now lively discussion. Amangul jokes and laughs with us. When we can really eat no more, she clears the dishes and lifts the dutar down from it’s place. One of the men starts strumming the strings, while Amangul pulls me and two others up to dance. Laughing, stepping, teasing, I realise that, around Amangul’s table, strangers are no longer strangers.
With her warmth and kindness, Amangul has bound six divided people together and created friendship.
Will you pray with us for different ethnic groups?
Hospitality on China’s Silk Road is extravagant and beautiful. Praise God for this reflection of his generosity to us. Ask God to show us all ways that we can share hospitality with Muslims in our own communities.
There are government policies in some parts of China’s Silk Road that require people to make friendships and offer hospitality over ethnic boundaries. Pray for Jesus’ grace and kindness to flavor these relationships. Pray that he will create friendship, despite the barriers.
There is often miscommunication and tension between different ethnic groups on China’s Silk Road. Pray for reconciliation, and for real friendships to grow.
Seek guidance from God: what things can we do to promote reconciliation in our own towns and cities?