Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. – Isaiah 58:10
Rising above Long Beach Harbor, CA, right in the heart of Shoreline Village you will find a faux lighthouse which is actually a restaurant. Known for its mesquite grilled fresh seafood and spectacular views, the Parker Lighthouse Restaurant is also home to a two-story wine cellar. If I am ever in that part of California, I will make sure to visit it, not only because of my love for lighthouses but for seafood as well! The Parker Lighthouse Restaurant reminds me of how we are to shine not only by telling others about the love of God but by demonstrating it in tangible ways. One of those ways is by sharing our daily bread.
The Bible tells us that God is love. God the Father demonstrated His unconditional (agape) love by GIVING His only begotten Son to die as a ransom for the sin of humanity. Those who put their faith in this act of love are redeemed from the penalty of sin and as a result, are imparted with that same love so they can share with others. I experienced such love this past Thanksgiving Day.
Right after Hurricane Maria, which caused extensive damage in the Caribbean, I was eager to hear from my parents who live in one of the affected islands (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands).
Communication was impossible for the first few weeks. When I finally got in touch with them I was relieved to know that they were OK and had suffered no major loss/damage. Nevertheless, I still wanted to fly down to see them and help in any way I could. Unfortunately, flights were restricted up until mid-October. Although they had no electrical power they continued to reassure me that they were safe, had plenty of food and water, and were able to travel safely to the stores and back. That is why I planned my visit for the Thanksgiving week. I have gone back home to visit my folks a few times before, but I haven’t spent a major holiday with them since I left for the U.S. mainland. That was 34 years ago! Needless to say, it was a very emotional and truly rewarding experience. To top it off, the Chocolate BBQ Restaurant story has made it an even more memorable one.
Power had been restored to some parts of the island, so quite a few establishments, including restaurants and supermarkets, were already open for business. On Thanksgiving Day we decided to go and get some hot food and bring it back home to celebrate. Our first stop was Seaside Market & Deli, but we were greeted with a long line of hungry customers. The wait was over an hour, so we decided to move on. Our second stop took us to La Rein Chicken Shack (Millin’s), which turned out to be closed. At that point, we decided that our best bet was to go to the supermarket and pick up a few things to prepare a simple meal for the three of us. While on our way, dad suggested we check out a BBQ place which he occasionally drove by but had never stopped by to order. We went and, to our surprise and joy, it was open! Only a handful of people were present just hanging around the bar area. Mom and I walked in and I asked if they had any hot food to order. Jackie, one of the cooks, told us that unfortunately, they were not selling any food that day. Needless to say, we were disappointed and began to walk away but not before she said, “Listen…if you stick around for a few minutes we will be bringing out some food and you can take some with you.” Of course, that instantly brightened up our day. Any food we did not have to cook would be a total blessing! But little did we know that “some food” meant an amazing Thanksgiving Buffet!
They had roasted chicken, turkey, pork (pernil), ham. rice and pigeon peas (a Latin favorite), potato salad, macaroni salad, house salad, baked macaroni, baked spaghetti with meat, coleslaw, corn on the cob, steamed vegetables, Crucian stuffing (a local sweet potato-type casserole), bread, pie, and soft drinks. And it was all FREE of charge! I asked Jackie if the food was part of an in-house party for the workers and she told me no, that it was for anyone who showed up that day. She said that their little food shack was untouched by the hurricane and that even after the storm they were able to sell chicken and Johnny Cakes (a doughy flour tart) every day. For that reason, they decided to cook and share this banquet on Thanksgiving Day in gratitude toward God for his protection and provision. I immediately thanked them, blessed them, and prayed that the Lord would prosper them with more business. I also took a selfie with Jackie and her sister, Miriam, and posted it on Facebook accompanied by this wonderful story. Many of the comments so far have included a promise (by locals and people who plan to visit the island) to patronize the establishment.
How about that? A restaurant that was shining the light of Christ through generous giving. A grateful people showing appreciation to God by investing time, effort, and resources in order to bless others with a free Thanksgiving meal. That is what being a lighthouse is all about. Not just serving as a mouthpiece for God, but also as His hands and feet. Giving, just like He gave His Son to us, is what we have been called to do for as long as we are able to. May we be continuously reminded of His daily mercies, His grace, love, protection, and abundant provisions. And may we never forget that He freely, faithfully and generously gives them unto us so that we may shine by freely, faithfully and generously giving them unto others.
I thank God for allowing me to spend Thanksgiving Day with my parents and share this wonderful experience. I pray His continued blessings, protection and provisions over my family and over Chocolate’s BBQ Place!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings. For watching over me while I sleep and for every morning that I awake. For every single breath I take and every step I make. Thank you for your love and faithfulness. Above all, thank you for Jesus. Without Him, I would not be here today. May my heart respond with genuine gratitude by showing others the same grace and generosity you have shown me.