Weekly Reflection: Sharing Our Very Best

This week’s guest devotional was written by author and speaker, Sarah Sanderson. Sarah is a member of Oak Hills Presbyterian Church in Milwaukie, Oregon which has been participating in Rice & Beans Month during the season of Lent for many years. Her family recently had the opportunity to travel to Africa and get a taste of the food, hospitality, and kindness of our global brothers and sisters.

Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.
— Luke 3:11

The meal was not simple. 

When our family of six traveled to the African continent, we expected to eat simply, as we’d done at home in Oregon during Rice & Beans Months for the previous several years, in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the globe. But when we trekked to a remote village in the rainforest of Cameroon, we were amazed by the sumptuous banquet the villagers had laid out in our honor. 

Some elements of the meal were simple: rice, boiled cassava roots, two different types of locally grown greens. But the villagers had also carefully prepared fish, chicken, and even beef sandwiches on French bread. As the guests of honor, we were ushered to the head of the line, where our hosts insisted that we fill our plates with each of the many dishes spread before us. We were excited to taste every part of the incredible meal.

We were also humbled by the villagers’ generous hospitality, especially when we saw the supplies on the banquet table dwindling as the rest of the village came through the line. From our places in the seats of honor, we watched as every person in the village put a much smaller portion on their plates and then filed outside to sit on the ground. By the time the last few women and children approached the banquet table, not much food was left. They ate scraps while we finished our feast.

We had come to Cameroon to learn more about our friends’ ministry and to bless the people of that place however we could. But we ended up receiving far more than we gave—even to the point of unintentionally taking fish and chicken and beef that could have gone to the village children.

After the meal, we toured the village and saw the desperate poverty in which many of our hosts were living. Children dressed in rags lived in ramshackle huts. It was clear that this village had pooled its meager resources to provide for us a much richer banquet than they would ever have eaten in their day-to-day lives.

We were honored and blessed by the generosity of the Cameroonian village. But we were also saddened by the ways that the meal only replayed wider economic realities. In our visit to the village that day, just as in geopolitical history, we rich white Westerners had taken more than our fair share, leaving insufficient amounts for our African brothers and sisters.

And we were saddened to think about what would happen if these villagers ever traveled to the United States. If they came to our town, would we pull out all the stops, as they had done for us, treating our visitors to the very best we could possibly offer? Or would our new friends be greeted the way many refugees and foreigners are met in the United States—with suspicion and inhospitality?

That day in Cameroon, the villagers shared their very best with my family and me. We may never get the chance to return their hospitality by hosting them at our house. But by eating simply for Rice and Beans Month, we can share the best of what we have with children on the other side of the world. By eating rice and beans so we can give to Lahash, we can honor our East African friends the way those Cameroonian villagers honored us.

The Bible tells us to honor others above ourselves, and to share what we have with our friends. The Cameroonian villagers did this when we visited them.

Are we willing to do the same?


God, open our hearts and minds to be challenged, humbled, and renewed by the example of our African brothers and sisters in the faith. They are often rich where we are poor, wise where we are foolish, and thankful in situations that would find us discontent. Teach us, Lord, by their example, to see past the fleeting wealth and temporary troubles of this world, and instead to lift our eyes to you in thankful worship and joyful hope. May our sincere efforts on their behalf bless them as richly as they bless us. Amen.

If you’re looking for additional resources for your Rice & Beans Month experience, you can click these links to find more devotionals, learn more about Rice & Beans Month, or donate your savings to improve nutrition for children in need.