by Judy Wang
Growing up in Chicago as the kid of Taiwanese immigrant parents, I remember with fondness all the wonderful smells of Ma’s cooking wafting from the kitchen. I can still smell it now, all my favorite Taiwanese foods – beef noodle soup, braised pork rice, pork & cabbage dumplings, tea eggs, flaky scallion pancakes, sweet potato rice porridge, sticky rice tamales, the list goes on.
When it comes to bringing people together, nothing quite compares to food, as my family would gather around the table and enjoy the meal family style. At times, we would mix traditions together – something from their homeland and something from America – like the one time, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a generous meal highlighted by Peking Duck with steamed buns.
The kitchen was Ma’s sanctuary, her sacred place, her little piece of Taiwan, her connection to her heritage and memories of everything she left behind to come to this brave new world called America and seek out a better future for her children. All the recipes she brought with her to her new home, she knew them by heart, never measured her ingredients, and seasoned everything by taste. Sometimes when she was in the mood and had enough time, she would call me into the kitchen to help her wrap dumplings, and we bonded as she imparted her recipe onto me. In this way, our family recipes and culture would pass on from one generation to the next.
In the same spirit and hope, the founders of Apples of Gold began their ministry to connect women, build up their faith, and create community within the church. Through this ministry, they desired to open their hearts and share godly wisdom and experiences with the next generation of women in the church. And, again, nothing compares to preparing and sharing a meal together to allow that holiest of exchanges to take place.
We focused on “Experiencing Life Together” as our theme this year and learned the “recipe” for creating true and genuine fellowship. I’d like to share with you a condensed version of that recipe:
Recipe: Experiencing Life Together
1 lb of Fellowship
1 tablespoon of Humility & Courage
1 serving of Mutuality
1 teaspoon of Sympathy
A handful of Mercy
1. Place the Fellowship into a home with a kitchen or a gathering where women break bread together. Because Fellowship starts when we are together, when we live out our day-to-day lives side-by-side.
2. Gradually stir in Humility & Courage and mix it together to produce Authenticity. This flavor will create the foundation for all the following ingredients to build upon, for it is only with Authenticity that we are able “to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy.” (pg. 140, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren)
3. Pour in Mutuality and whip it vigorously into the Fellowship. Because as Scripture says, “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19 NIV) For there are over 50 incidences in the New Testament where we are commanded to do different tasks to “one another” and “each other.” So this step in the recipe is crucial for experiencing life together.
4. Then, take the Sympathy and fold it gently into the Fellowship. Because sometimes, we just need to know that we’re not crazy and that it’s ok to feel the way that we feel. In this way, “we enter into each other’s pain and grief and carry each other’s burdens.” (pg 142, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren)
5. And finally, take a handful of Mercy and sprinkle it liberally everywhere you see tension, misunderstanding, or sticky circumstances in the Fellowship. Because we all stumble sometimes, and we all need mercy.
6. When you have finished, start from #1 and repeat this process over and over again.
And, voila! You have yourself a Fellowship that is a hearty meal of good spiritual food for the soul.
At the end of Apples of Gold, we received a cookbook compilation of all the recipes shared by the cooks from each different Apples group. Whenever I leaf through its pages, I am reminded of the delicious food, genuine conversations and hearty prayers we offered to one another during that time, and I am inspired to take the recipes for both “physical” and “spiritual” food and share it with another.