Our daughter, Emerson, and I love to welcome the Thanksgiving season as we used to when we lived in a colder climate by putting on cozy sweaters and baking pumpkin bread. The only difference is that now we—living in sunny Florida—have to crank up the A/C as well. The sweaters are a bit unnecessary, but the pumpkin bread is still delicious (Here’s the link to our favorite recipe.) As we bake, we talk about oh-so-many things. Measuring the weighty subjects on a teenager’s heart these days would take more measuring spoons than I have in my kitchen. And so, somewhere between preheating the oven and tasting that first bite of warm pumpkin bread, the kitchen becomes a sacred space for sharing our hearts … and Jesus meets us there.
Throughout the ages, followers of Jesus have turned food preparation and cleanup into a time of reflection and devotion. Aarti Sequeira, Food Network star and devotional writer, says she prays before she cooks and invites the Lord into the process. “How we show up in the kitchen is how we are going to show up in every other portion of our lives because it is this daily mundane thing that we do, and if we can change our hearts about that, imagine how our hearts can change.”
Brother Lawrence expressed a similar desire 400 years ago when he said, “Lord of all pots and pans and things … make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates.”
This vision of what happens between women and their family members in the kitchen and around the table is so powerful that it’s inspired a new Jesus Film Project® strategy in Africa. Alongside her husband, David, Sarah Wataba gives leadership to all of Jesus Film Project’s ministry initiatives there. They are embarking on an ambitious vision to mobilize 100,000 women by 2025 to use Jesus Film Project tools to win men, women, and children to Christ all across Africa.
With the average age being only 18 years old, there are many young people and young families in the region. Sarah says that in the kitchens of Africa, women are preparing their kids—the next generation—to lead and are mobilizing them to reach the last and least reached in Africa. She sees this approach involving the everyday practice of food preparation, consumption and cleanup, as a unique opportunity to use women to change the future! Today, women have an unprecedented opportunity to change the future. And they’ll do it—one meal, one conversation, one greasy pot at a time.
What a privilege it is to support Sarah and her team in this inspired outreach! May the Lord continue to bless these devoted homemakers and may He meet you this Thanksgiving, between turning on the stove and washing the last of the dirty pots and pans, as we continue to build a kingdom fit for our gracious, glorious King.