A Fresh Breeze in the Windy City
When Boaz showed up at our house wearing a SPAM t-shirt, I knew we were in for an interesting evening.
Wait--let me back up.
In 2000 my husband (Brian) and I embraced the message of Torah. But sharing what we learned was difficult. In fact, most of our church friends thought we were "off the rails" (as one man suggested) for thinking that Christian obedience included the whole of God's Word.
To help spread this message (and to show that we weren't crazy), we began hosting events in our home where we invited any believing friend or acquaintance with a passion for truth and for God's Word. Over the years, we've held Shabbat dinners and Passover seders, shown FFOZ videos and led others through the HaYesod course. As a result, a rag-tag group of Torah-curious believers meet at our Chicago home once or twice a month to watch an FFOZ DVD, enjoy a Shabbat dinner or celebrate God's appointed times.
The moment I heard that Boaz and his family were hitting the road, I requested that he visit our periodic meeting. Not only would it be nice to see my boss and his family (it's only happened a few times in four years), I thought it might help nurture our budding home fellowship.
On the afternoon of our gathering, Boaz and his family rolled into the Windy City and stopped by our house before running some errands. As they piled out of their car, I was surprised to see a smiling man, half the size of the guy in the Y3K video, wearing a t-shirt promoting SPAM: a treif, fake-meat product. Had he been re-thinking Leviticus 11? Would "Holy Cow!" soon be backlisted? Thankfully, he changed clothes before our friends arrived.
Sitting on our sofa with Jeremiah (his eldest son), Boaz spent about two hours sharing his testimony, providing encouragement, exhorting us, and answering questions for our 20 or so guests.
In addition hearing some basic Torah apologetics, I was pleasantly surprised how impacted I was personally by his message. Here are a few highlights:
â€¢ His family. Boaz and Amber's (Tikvah) four home-schooled children are unbelievably enjoyable, good-natured and well-behaved---a clear testimony to living a messiah-centered, Torah-focused life. Example: when I was clearing off the dinner buffet and making room for dessert, their youngest daughter got up from playing a game with some other children, walked over to me, and asked, "Mrs. Egan, may I help you clean up?"
â€¢ Advice to those of us on the narrow, Torah road. When asked what he has learned on this journey, Boaz provided sobering advice that convicted me: "Have a healthy respect for every child of God. Don't be arrogant with what we know is right. Fight the tendency to 'puff up' as a result of our knowledge. Be humble." I confess that I've struggled in this area---in part because of all that I've learned from FFOZ teachings. It was refreshing to now be challenged from the same source to use that information more wisely.
â€¢ Importance of relationships. Boaz stressed that true change happens only in the context of relationships. He encouraged us to get to know people and extend them mercy and grace. Change will happen naturally. It's not our job to convince others if we don't have a relationship with them. Having just spent over a year on the road for the sole purpose of nurturing relationships, Boaz has good "street cred" for delivering that message.
Another highlight was hearing Boaz's story of how he lost over 100 pounds. He used the details of this part of his life to exhort us in our approach to change: most of us put the weight of the responsibility on God, "Oh God, please change me..." rather than making a choice to change and then taking baby steps to get there. He urged us to employ good old-fashioned discipline in order to make progress in areas that we feel stuck in.
I'm not sure what the long term impact this might have on our fledgling community. But do I do know that in the short term, it's inspired Brian and I, giving us much to wrestle with and talk about.
In the meantime, I hope Boaz will explain what's up with the SPAM shirt.
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