(The story and activity below come from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. The fictional story is told from the point of view of a boy in the Netherlands, where SDOK is located.)
Yuk, beans again! I have a huge appetite for food, but not beans. I grumble throughout the entire meal. “Beans make me sick,” I say. “So how can they be healthy?” And I grumble that we also ate healthy food yesterday (spinach) and the day before (cauliflower). My mother doesn’t respond at all, so I just keep on grumbling. Later, after reading the Bible, my mother suddenly says, “Because I thought it was such a delicious meal, Stef can choose his favorite dish tomorrow.”
Okay, that’s not a difficult question. My favorite meal is rice with peanut sauce. It is only mid-afternoon the next day when my mother calls down the stairs to sit at the table. Hey, we never eat that early. There’s something wrong. And yes. The table is normally set, but my plate is full of gray and white things. “What is that?” I ask hesitantly. I suspect some weird punishment.
“I’ll explain,” my mother says. “I was so annoyed by your grumbling at dinner yesterday. While I was cooking, I had read a story about a boy who lives in Vietnam. His father was in a prison camp for 17 years because he loves the Lord Jesus. He had to work hard and only got a bowl of rice to eat once a day. To persecute him even more, prison guards sometimes mixed his rice with small stones. If that happened to you, then you would have a reason to grumble.
“So I am giving you this challenge,” my mother continued. “There are small stones and rice in your bowl. Try to eat the rice without eating any stones. Then I will fix your favorite food.”
Believe it or not, but I still grumbled a bit while separating the rice and stones. But after half an hour I got it right: a plate full of rice without stones. I will never admit it, of course, but I thought this punishment was actually pretty good. And about the story in Vietnam? I’m not going to forget it.
Before you start eating, do you check carefully whether there are any stones in the food? Fortunately, we don’t worry about stuff in our food. Do you know who is concerned when they get their meal? Christians in Vietnam who are in prison. The guards sometimes put stones in their rice, just to bully them.
*Stir a handful of raisins into a bowl of rice or cereal. Pretend the raisins are stones. Then try to eat the food without getting raisins on your spoon or fork.
*To make peanut sauce, stir together ¼ cup of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. (Optional: ½ teaspoon of garlic and ½ teaspoon of lemon juice.) Heat and stir to blend, then serve over rice.