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By Nicolette Hutcherson

“Nicolette’s poor children…they love Lebanese food, but she really can’t make it for them.”

This was the explanation I was given as I was handed several large bags of frozen kibbe and grape leaves from Im Ibrahim.

Part of me felt really guilty accepting them. As Syrian Palestinian refugees, I know this family struggles to put food on the table. But I also know that this is a clear case of “not returning a plate empty.”

When you visit someone here in Lebanon, you usually take a gift, most often some kind of sweet. It may or may not be served at the visit, but regardless, when the plate is returned, it’s full of another baked good. Lots of little cultural things going on in this very common exchange.

Though I haven’t given this family food, thanks to a generous gift from one of our churches, we’ve been able to step in when they were faced with a medical emergency. Im Ibrahim’s 3-year-old grandson got sick with what everyone thought was a virus back in the fall but turned out to be a rare genetic condition that caused end stage renal failure. He is currently receiving kidney dialysis twice a week and will continue with that treatment until he can get a kidney transplant.

When we started our special fund to support refugees and at-risk families over ten year ago, we had no idea what a critical ministry it would turn out to be. In the case of little Bilal, it’s been lifesaving – many hospitals would refuse treatment for a child that is clearly unable to pay. For many other families, we’ve been able to step in and fill in a gap that helps them stay on their feet. For example, this year we are paying school tuition for 5 kids, which not only ensures an education for kids that might otherwise have no access to it, but also relieves some pressure on the families to put their scant resources towards other basic needs like food and rent.

Every time we are able to support a family, whether through paying medical bills, school tuition, giving food vouchers, or helping with rent money…. we have the opportunity to share about how the love of God and sacrifice of Jesus compels so many of our friends and churches back in the US to give to those they’ve never met.

I wish you all could have sat around our table enjoying the incredible grape leaves that Im Ibrahim sent… but for now just a thank you will have to do!

Discussion Questions:

On your social media or in the comments, share an answer to these questions. 

  • Take the time to learn about a people group you’ve never met. After some research and prayer, share on your social media what you’ve learned about them. What are their needs? And how is God calling you to pray for them?
  • How did a meal train you started help you or someone in your community? How did you see God work though that?
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