I took some time to ask a friend of mine some questions about how she uses cooking as a ministry. Rachel is the Main Cook at a youth camp in Wisconsin. She’s been working there for many years and has so much to share about the ways the Lord has opened opportunities for her using her cooking.
- Do you consider your food and cooking position to be critical to the ministry?
Yes. Very much so! Good food is good for morale, and one of our goals is for the campers to enjoy their time here. Generally speaking, if the campers are happy and taken care of, they are more attentive to God’s word. I think cooking for people is a simple way to show hospitality and care. One of camp’s verses, 1 Corinthians 10:31 ends with “whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I think you can definitely cook to the glory of God!
- Do you purposefully cook or plan meals for specific events in effort to leave a different result or open door with the campers/visitors?
What comes to mind is a meal we try to have about once a year for our firefighters from Whitewater. They helped us a ton when a camp family lost their home in a fire, and we try to show our appreciation and build relationships with them. Also, I cook for a lot of people with food allergies, and even food limitations because of religious beliefs (Jewish, Muslim) and this is a good way to open doors to make friends. They are surprised that we will do this for them.
- Do you think people cooking at home can have a ministry too? In the actual making/serving of meals?
Yes, for sure, probably even more so than we do here at camp. I know it seems kind of old fashioned to have a good old sit down dinner and have your neighbors over, but I think it really speaks to people. The fact that you’re willing to give what costs you something is so foreign to many people. I know a missionary lady who has been welcomed into the locals homes because she’s learned how to make their kind of bread. They saw that she was making an effort to reach out and give of her time and talents.
- Are there other ways you get to minister or interact with people that have to do with food, but not limited to your position in the camp kitchen?
Not as much as I’d like. There are a few church things I’ve been able to help with, but not a lot of other outside things. Every now and then, I used to take something homemade to the orthodontist or ladies at the bank! J
- What is the greatest thing the Lord has taught you in your time as a cook/chef
Oh, man. This is hard! Ministry is glamorized, and I think I went into it with many false illusions. Cooking is definitely the easiest part of my job! I have failed so many times, in my relationships with people, in being efficient and dependable, in going the extra mile, doing my best, but God never stops using me. He enables those who he has called. Lamentations 3:23 says God’s mercies are new every morning, and he has taught me that though I am weak, he is strong…He is still God. He’s taught me that I can do nothing worthwhile without Him, but that I can do everything He calls me do through His strength. This all may sound trite and cliché, but I honestly never understood these truths before I came here and experienced God’s incredible working in my life.