My friend Ingrid, over at “Reaching HIS Kids” contacted me about this sweet couple. Ingrid told me that they are “THE” couple who she thinks about first when she thinks about a “Meal Ministry”. Ingrid was kind enough to take some beautiful photos of this couple in action. What an incredible gift of hospitality.
When I think of a meal ministry, I think of Ralph and Mary. Mary was born and raised in our church. Ralph started to attend during college. They met, married, raised three kids and 56 years later still attend and serve in many ways! They have hosted a “young adults” dinner one Sunday a month for 15 years.
After their children were grown Mary spent years serving as the church cook. On a weekly basis she would cook for hundreds of people. Events included Wednesday evening church dinners, mission guild lunches, ladies luncheons, men’s events and church banquets. I love her wisdom in saying, “I quit while I still enjoyed it!” After “retiring” as the church cook, they began to host dinners in their home. Ralph was teaching a college age Sunday school class and at Mary’s suggestion, they invited the class over for dinner. What was a simple dinner, grew into a monthly meal ministry. Mary said, “Our life has been so enriched by investing in young people.”
For years the dinners were focused on college age singles and it became known as the “young adults dinner”. Today the meals are open to everyone. Mary said, “The term young has lost its definition.” It is still called the “young adults dinner” but our pastor will joke about young being a state of mind.
Despite having a small kitchen and modest size home, they have hosted anywhere from 5 to 54 people. Mary said, “We’ve always had enough food. God directs me to prepare the correct amount.” The food is always delicious and served on fine China. Mary said that, “Once a year I use paper plates, that is when we have a picnic and eat outside. I am too cheap to buy paper plates each month. I was blessed with my wedding China and my mother’s and grandmother’s China. I can serve 50.” She has a variety of flatware but always uses her good silver.
I asked Mary about preparation and she said, “Usually the Thursday before I will say to Ralph, ‘What should we have on Sunday?’ Then I shop and prepare the day before.” Mary has years of recipes to choose from. The food is always delicious and everyone leaves satisfied.
Another thing I love about Ralph and Mary is how they have lived their lives to serve God. They support many missionaries, have served faithfully at our church and started taking short-term missions trips in their 50s. The list includes Peru, Thailand, China, Philippines, Chad, England, Germany and many months of time volunteering with Wycliffe in Dallas, TX. Also, they have spent countless years working at our church’s missions guild.
As I interview them Mary said to Ralph, “We’ve had such a rich life, I am so glad you asked me to marry you.” She also shared with me that Ralph occasionally brings home a single red rose. She had one in a vase on her kitchen table. I am so thankful for the example of Ralph and Mary in my life. They have blessed me and so many others with their love for each other and for their Savior!
The pictures below were taken on a recent Sunday at Ralph and Mary’s home. I enjoyed the food and fellowship along with 29 other people from our church. I hope this story inspires you to find a way to use your gifts and abilities to serve others.
“We’ve always had enough food. God directs me to prepare the correct amount.”
“I was blessed with my wedding China and my mother’s and grandmother’s China. I can serve 50.”
“Our life has been so enriched by investing in young people.”
Here is a delicious dish from Mary’s Kitchen!
1 lb. of carrots
1 green pepper
1/2 can tomato soup
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 tsp. prepared mustard
Slice and cook carrots (not too cooked), then cool. Slice and separate onions and slice green peppers. Keep them raw. Mix the remaining ingredients for the sauce. Toss carrots, onions and green peppers. Pour mixture over veggies and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold. It is delicious!
One of Mary’s recipe books in which she keeps her Calico Carrots recipe!
Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring story. It has been such a blessing to me and will be to anyone reading. Christ’s work is so evident through this couple in these photos…the smiles on everyone’s faces as they gather in fellowship is absolutely priceless.
Dear Ralph and Mary,
Geoff and I pray to be half as obedient to the Lord as you have been- in marriage, in giving, and in spreading God’s word. Thank you so much for being a part of Comfy in the Kitchen’s “Meal Ministry Monday”. God has blessed you with such an amazing life song…keep singing!
P.S My 7 year old son came in why I was typing this up and asked about who you were. I told him your story and his precious words were: “They’re definitely going to heaven”.