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Aprons and the rice pastor

Wearing an apron is a practical symbol of service.

Jesus wrapped a towel around him similar to an apron to wash the disciples’ feet. If you want to experience humility, put on an apron and serve.

“And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, ‘God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6

“Put on the apron of humility, to serve one another.”

I learned something about aprons at DAIL Community near Seoul, South Korea. During the orientation we were given a bright orange apron by the founder, Rev. Il-Do (David) Choi. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Rev. Choi is known as the “babfor” pastor which means “pastor who scoops rice.”

We soon had our own “scoop rice” experience as hundreds of hungry people gathered to receive their meal. We took our stations and went to work. Every 15 minutes or so, we would shift to another task; filling the tray with rice or soup, seating people, bringing food, cleaning tables or washing dishes. The work was tedious but gratifying. Very few of the people receiving our help knew any English, but it didn’t stop them from smiling and bowing in appreciation.

Putting on an apron and serving others can seem monotonous and frustrating at times, but the joy of helping someone can be immensely fulfilling. DAIL Community describes their purpose as “to practice God’s commandment to love each other, spread the Good News to others and to live our lives like Jesus stretching out our hands to our abandoned neighbors thus creating a more beautiful world. It starts with anything; it starts with me; it starts now.”

So grab an apron and remember, “It starts with anything; it starts with me; it starts now.”

DAIL Community started with Rev. Choi serving soup and noodles to one person on the street who was hungry. Now the community feeds thousands of people daily and offers free medical services at 17 branches in 10 countries throughout Asia. The Korean word “DA-IL” means “pursuit of unity within diversity.” A diverse group of people working towards unity in the name of Jesus by leading a spiritual life and service to others. The apron has become a symbol of their love and service.

“God resists the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:6

God, we are so frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking. Strengthen our weakness, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts. for Christ’s sake. Amen.

This prayer by Thomas A Kempis challenges us to overcome our frailties and tendency toward avoiding “virtuous and gallant undertakings.” I need God to strengthen my weakness so that I may do better in this spiritual war. Help me against my negligence and cowardice in the face of opportunities.

Opportunities – I passionately believe that God places opportunities in front of us every day. As these opportunities present themselves, we have a choice as to how we respond or don’t respond. However, when we respond to the opportunities with faith, God often responds in amazing ways.

At one point the DAIL Community was in deep financial distress. Food supplies were critically low while the number of people standing in line to receive meals grew substantially. Pastor Choi calculated that within two weeks the food would be gone and there were no funds to purchase more. Pastor Choi would no longer be able to serve the poor and the DAIL Community would collapse.

Pastor Choi had nothing left except faith in God and a life devoted to prayer.

That day, a large delivery truck pulled up in front of the center. The driver informed Pastor Choi that the company producing the noodles had experienced a recall that made it impossible for their company to sell an entire production run of noodles. They had no choice but to discard literally tons of food. The truck driver was told to deliver the entire quantity of recalled noodles to DAIL.

• Put on the apron of humility, to serve one another.

• God resists the proud but shows favor to the humble.

• It starts with anything; it starts with me; it starts now.

Each day, God offers opportunities to don aprons of humility and serve in a way that can be deeply gratifying. “Strengthen our weakness so that we may do better.”

Occasionally, God provides a miracle or two as a blessed reminder that we are never serving alone.

So, grab an apron and remember the words and lessons of Rev. Choi and the DAIL Community: “It starts with anything; it starts with me; it starts now.”

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.