A couple of times a year we feed the poor in a remote area in Vietnam. The feeding is hosted in an orphanage. Along with a hot meal, we also give them a small amount of money and a month’s supply of food. This community outreach is done by invitation only to the poorest of the poor and the most disabled. They come early and wait outside the gates in more than 100 degree temperatures. The fortunate ones have motorbikes or the ability to walk. Some, who are too lame, have been known to scoot along for miles using only their arms.


There’s a story in the bible about a man named Mephibosheth. As an heir to his grandfather’s throne, his name meant “dispeller of shame or idols.” Now it seemed he was living out his name only in part, in a life of shame and despair. As the story goes, David was crowned king. His predecessor, Saul, and next in line for the throne, son Jonathan were killed in battle. When word of their death came to the palace, the nurse of Jonathan’s young son Mephibosheth ran with the child in fear for his life. She dropped him along the way causing him to become lame.


Years later Mephibosheth was living in hiding in a place called Lodebar. Lodebar means “pastureless.” One day king David asked if there was anyone left in Saul’s family that he could show kindness to for the sake of his friend Jonathan. When he learned of Mephibosheth, he sent soldiers to retrieve him.


Mephibosheth must have been terrified. When Mephibosheth came to David, he quickly bowed down with his face touching the ground.


“Don’t be afraid,” David told him. “I will certainly show kindness for your father Jonathon’s sake. I will give back to you all the land of your grandfather Saul and you will always sit at my table.”


David restored to Mephibosheth all that belonged to Saul and his family and more, including fields and pastures. From then on he sat at the king’s table as one of his own sons. Mephibosheth should have been considered an enemy yet David’s display of love made him family.


The orphans at the home where we feed the poor are always happy to see us.  We spend several days playing with the children while we’re there. One couple is currently in the process of adopting a little girl named Tram. They’ve already adopted her into their heart and like any good mom or dad, they made sure she learned the words of the song from Barney. “I love you, you love me. We’re a happy family.” Now whenever you say “I love you” to Tram, she quickly and happily responds, “You love me!” It melts your heart somehow even more than if she gave the standard response, “I love you too.” The fact that this once orphaned child knows she is loved is overwhelming.


David was able to show extravagant love and kindness because he knew it for himself. It’s evident when you read Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul, He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”


The once pastureless Mephibosheth was given an abundance of green pastures. The one whose name meant “shame,” was now called “son.”


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Even as Mephisobeth walked through the valley he had nothing to fear because the king was on his side.


“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”


There was a moment for Mephibosheth when he understood the king’s armies weren’t pursuing him for harm but for goodness and mercy. From then on Mephibosheth would always sit at the king’s table.


Many of the people we serve    in Vietnam are Buddhist. The difference in our religion and theirs is simple. Their religion has them prepare a table for their god. Our God prepares a table for His children.


These are challenging times. The place we live may be something like Lodebar. But make no mistake, God still removes kings and sets up kings. He’s the same for us as He was for David, our fierce protector and provider, who offers  us  a  resting  place  in  His luxurious pastures of love (Psalm 23: 1 The Passion Translation). For each of us, I pray there is that moment when fear gives way to faith. And like Tram, we know and believe we’re loved, deeply and wildly loved.


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