Look on the Fields: Cast Thy Bread on the Waters

She had been widowed for 15 years and had worked hard to make her living at what she knew best as a wife and mother. If she had a dollar for every loaf of bread she made, she would be quite well-off. He was a preacher of the gospel and his wife had died a few years previously. God in His kindness and wisdom brought these two people together and they married “in the Lord.” Now, together as older people they were starting a new life and she wondered how to best connect with the people in the community where they lived. Baking bread wasn’t her hobby; for years it had been a necessity in order to feed her large family and to help make ends meet.

“How can I connect with the people in this community? I am a stranger to them. They have lived here all their lives and now I am married to one of their own people; everyone knows my husband is a gospel preacher.”

One day when baking bread, she decided to make some extra loaves and take them to the neighbors. Each loaf of bread was made by hand and formed with the care of 50 years of experience. Then she and her husband took a loaf of bread to the neighbor’s door and he introduced her to the neighbors as his new wife. With few words and a very nice smile she greeted them and a neighborly bond was formed. Now she is on a first name basis and speaking terms every time they meet. Sometimes they take a pot of stew over, and now the neighbor is occasionally bringing them some expression of neighborliness back. The neighbors now count it a privilege when they are asked for help in some project.

Now, before Christmas every year, 70 neighbors receive a loaf of bread, made from scratch, and formed with a desire that they might see and know the love of Christ through the work of her hands. When she walks through the town everyone knows her. The post-mistress said to us, “When she walks in, this place lights up.” When she and her husband go to deliver packages containing a Via magazine, an assortment of tracts, and a calendar, every home is open in the town. All the people respect them even though they won’t come to hear him preach. Whenever they need help of some kind they know there is an older couple in their community that genuinely cares for them. They are “peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

This is “casting your bread upon the waters.”

In most cities, doors are closed to people who folks don’t know, even those living in the same apartment building. But it is surprising how the smell of freshly baked bread can open a door. A small jar of homemade jam, or a little bit of molasses in a container in a basket with a nice towel around it to go with freshly baked bread right out of the oven, is very hard to resist when someone from down the hall and the second door to the right offers it with a nice smile and a first name.

“Oh, just keep the basket if you want it. But if you want to bring it back sometime, come on in for a cup of coffee or tea. And maybe the basket will get filled up again. I like to bake, but we are getting older and don’t eat as much as we used to. Do come and visit us. We are just down the hall and the second door to the right.”

This is “casting your bread upon the waters.”

In a fairly upscale suburb of a big city, a new family moved in just across the street. When the moving truck got there it was almost noon and the moving men and the new family were carrying things into the house. A soul-winner packed up a container with sandwiches, carrots, and celery sticks, and some peanut butter to go with it, pieces of cheddar cheese, two thermos bottles of coffee, and one with hot water and some tea bags, and a pie – and went across the street.

“Hi, I’m your new neighbor right over there and it looks like maybe it is time you all had a rest and something to eat. I’ll just spread this cloth over the front steps and you all get some strength back. I’ll pour the coffee. By the way, my name is … and I live right over there. If you need a phone or to get on line, feel free to come on over. I will be home all day. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll just stay out of your way while you get settled. I know all the folks around here and if you need a bunch of hands for anything, just let me know. We will all be glad to help, and welcome to the neighborhood.”

This is “casting your bread upon the waters.”

Much of the privilege of reaching people with the gospel is done without fanfare and sometimes without a word of gospel testimony being spoken the first few times we meet. A casual word about praying or going to “church” after awhile gives a new acquaintance a little understanding of who you are. “Good works” and soul-winning go well together. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Take time to pray each day that the Lord will allow you to make contact in some way with someone. If the person is a Christian, rejoice in the blessing of “doing good to all men, especially those of the household of faith.” There may be several days go by when you have not been able to make a connection with an unbeliever. At least use the phone to call one of God’s saints who may live alone and have a talk about something that can cheer their heart. If you have someone of special interest in your life, ask for prayer and if possible pray over the phone with that person.

Fellowship in prayer is part of “casting your bread upon the waters.”