Elden Ramirez practices what he preaches.

November 30, 2022

Digesting Grace

When it comes to caring for his neighbor, my colleague in the Lake Union office, Elder Elden Ramirez, practices what he preaches.

He frequently, when approached by a homeless person for money, will invite that person to eat a meal with him. Sometimes it takes several tries before he locates a café or diner that will serve them, but he is persistent. Sometimes he has to get take-out and shares the meal on a park bench or at a bus stop. But, however the food is gotten, eating together opens the doors to amazing conversations.

He listens carefully to the person’s story, asking questions about their life while trying not to invade too much on their privacy. He gets stories—incredible stories—of people who sometimes have struggled with addictions, or broken relationships, or mental illness. He always looks for opportunities to share with them his own testimony of the difference that Jesus has made in his life. If they are open to it, he leads them to an understanding of the redemption that can be found in giving one’s life to Jesus.

A couple of weeks ago, our Lake Union staff enjoyed lunch together in the Andrews University cafeteria. While the food was delicious, the fellowship we enjoyed as we sat together over a good meal was extraordinary. We work together every week; we have worship together; we meet together for staff meetings. But something special happens when we sit and eat together. Masks come off as we sit at a meal and talk about our kids, and hopes, and dreams, and disappointments.

In the New Testament, there are 10 stories of Jesus spending time with others over a meal. From the feeding of the 5,000 to dining with sinners, Jesus used mealtime to break through to the hearts of people like you and me. During this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, as you gather with family and friends, I hope you not only enjoy the foods that are traditional to your family but that you are blessed by warm conversations, that you take time to share the stories that bind your hearts together and draw you collectively to Jesus.


Ken Denslow is president of the Lake Union Conference.