With spring in the air and baseball and soccer beginning, here's a sure fire way to be ready in season and out of season to minister to someone in need. I learned a long time ago from personal experience the value of having at least three meals put together in the freezer that I could easily deliver at a minutes notice to a sick neighbor or the mother of a new born. Since March is the third month of the year, it's a great month to do this three meal task. The point of a pre-made meal leaves you prepared at a minutes notice to love your neighbor as yourself or even love yourself if you have a family crisis.
About fifteen years ago, in our little neighborhood in the suburbs of Atlanta, I learned that our neighbor, who had just had a new born baby, had also learned she had stage four lung cancer and would not live for much longer. I was moved to tears because I too was a relatively new mom to a second child. I couldn't begin to imagine what it would mean to grow up without a mom or to be the new mom leaving a baby behind.
As I began to pray, the Lord told me to prepare three meals and put them in the freezer. I couldn't figure out why the freezer instead of delivered. The answer was, “timing is everything”. So over the next few days I began to figure out three meals that would actually taste good if prepared from the freezer. I chose Cheesy Bacon Chicken as one of my meals. It's a hit at our house and also a comfort food.
The key to freezer meals is knowing how to prepare and freeze them so they taste fresh when they need to be used. I'm sharing one of the recipes below so you can see how the idea works. You can take almost any recipe and create a freezer meal. You just don't prepare the meal to completion. You only partially cook it or mix sauces with meats and freeze and cook the rice or noodles and sides when it's time to serve. This will allow you to grab something and go when an emergency occurs.
Now back to the story. As I was preparing my three meals, the Lord was preparing me. He made it clear he wanted me to write my neighbor a letter sharing my testimony and challenging her to realize the most valuable gift she could leave behind was the promise to her new born, who would one day want to meet her, the opportunity to see her again in Heaven. I wrote the letter and the meals were ready and then I waited....
Every time I drove by their home on my way out of the neighborhood I would pray for wisdom. The day came when the Lord said, “Today is the day.” Since I was prepared, I went home and got the meals and the letter I had written and delivered them. I left the meals in her freezer with the easy cooking directions for her husband and gave her the letter to read later when she had time alone. She was grateful even though we didn't really know one another. In this fast paced world we live in, simple relationships with the neighbor down the street fall by the wayside but prepared in advance meals are a great way to bridge the gap. When people are sick and in need, they are much more receptive to the love of Christ.
Sadly, my neighbor passed away one week later. Miraculously, I later learned she had indeed found Christ after reading my letter with the help of another neighbor who was a new follower of Christ himself. What a gift it was to my heart and to her children. God is faithful when we are prepared and willing to obey.
Try this freezer meal at home first and see what you think. It can be done in a crock pot or baked in the oven until hot and bubbly and the chicken is done.
Cheesy Bacon Chicken
1- can of cream of chicken soup
1- 8 oz pkg of cream cheese
3 slices of fully cooked and crumbled bacon
4 frozen uncooked chicken breasts
Mix the first three ingredients together and heat on low/medium until the cream cheese is melted and everything is blended. Let the mixture fully cool, then pour it over the frozen chicken and place it in a large zip lock freezer bag. Measure out 1.5 cups of dry rice into a separate zip lock bag and place in the freezer beside the chicken mixture. When it's time to deliver, cook the rice by adding 3 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, put in the rice. Cover and simmer on low until water is absorbed and rice is soft. Carry the frozen chicken with directions to thaw and bake on 350 degrees when they need the meal. The rice will keep up to 4 to 6 days. Once they cook the chicken mixture, they should serve it over reheated rice.
This is sure to please and minister all at the same time. Now try your hand at the idea. Pick two other recipes you can prepare in a similar way and freeze them. The next time you have a crisis or your neighbor is in need grab a meal or two and go! You do the cooking and let God do the rest!
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)