'We love cooking so we started making meals for our community'

Sam’s story | What can happen when faith heats up

“In my twenties, my husband and I moved to Deniliquin to be near his parents. We had two young children. I was reading a lot of New Age material and I had a lot of life questions. Such as what are we here for?”

“Sometime later, I was talking to my mother-in-law about all these questions I’d been seeking and the different areas I’d been searching, and she said, very graciously, ‘Did you know… that everything you’re seeking, you can find in Jesus.’

“The next morning was a challenging morning. My young daughter was incredibly upset and we were all very stressed. My mother-in-law left for work, but on her way out, she said, ‘There’s a book on the kitchen bench and there’s a prayer on the back page. You might read it and see if you feel like saying it.’

“I picked it up and I read the prayer. I prayed it. The peace I felt was phenomenal. It overcame the whole house. Even my daughter and her demeanor was changed. It was beautiful!

“After that, I started going to a playgroup with my children, at the local church. One of the ladies met with me to disciple me one on one. This was amazing. I joined a Bible study and I went to church. But for a while, it still felt like I was walking in the spiritual ‘gutter’ – with one foot up and one foot down.

“Then in 2006, I went to a Colour Conference in Sydney with a group of ladies from Cootamundra. I knew that I had to recommit myself to Jesus. I had tears in my eyes. It was part of my journey back to Jesus. Since then, it’s been 100 miles an hour.

“In 2010, we started a community kitchen in Cootamundra. My mother-in-law and a close friend and I were all challenged by the call to minister in our own neighbourhood. We recognised we’d been a bit insular. We decided to meet people with hospitality. It was partly because of our giftings. The three of us all loved to cook!

“We started on Wednesday nights, serving a meal at 5:30pm. The first night, one woman came. We were so excited! We served her dinner and dessert. Then the next Wednesday a few more people came, and then it grew from word of mouth. It just took off. We’ve been doing it for 11 years now, and we get anything from 30 people up to 100 (for a Christmas dinner) every Wednesday.

“Most of our ‘kitchen family’ haven’t got a church background. Many of them have mental health issues. A lot of them are lonely, or elderly, or in the lower income category. We just welcome them. We love them and chat with them and we serve them. I pray before the meal and I ask them if they have prayer requests. We’ve had some amazing conversations – with people who wouldn’t normally talk about Jesus or ask for prayer.

“Two years ago, we started doing Bible study after the meal. Guess who was the first to come? The same woman who came on the first night. That made me teary. Now, we get a whole range of people. At first, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone. But God is extremely gracious. He has shown me that it’s in my weakness that he works. He says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“These days, I also lead the church on Sundays, associated with the kitchen. I am beyond excited to see what God has done through me, but even more so, to see what he’s doing through the others that he’s bought alongside me to fellowship with at our church.”

Sam’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

Bible verse 2 Corinthians 12 9

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