Sarah Olumegbon is gently sharing the gospel with teenage girls in Lewisham as they cook together.
A year and a half ago I was asking myself, how can I reach out to the young girls that I am in contact with?
I approached some of the parents with my idea to do ‘Cooking with Grandma’. Every two weeks, three to five girls aged thirteen and above came to my home to cook together and read the Bible together.
Some are not Christian believers, some had never read the Bible before.
Children sometimes don’t listen in church. But I know when they are in my kitchen I can engage with them properly. It’s much easier for them to talk and listen as we are chopping tomatoes. We’re preparing good food together, and we talk as we work.
Afterwards we do topical Bible studies, starting with the things that are happening in their lives such as dealing with anger, or family relationships.
I paused it for a while as I had not been so well. I was planning to restart it when the coronavirus hit, and I thought that we’d have to put it on hold. But my team leader came up with the idea to connect with the girls over the internet. I was hesitant at first because I’m poor at technology. I’d just got a laptop and Zoom was new to me.
Then I realised how important it is for them to be reminded of the gospel when there is all this fear and negativity going around, so I thought I had to give it a try.
During the week we sent out an ingredients list to all the families, arranged for each of us to have a phone or a laptop in the kitchen and that’s how we met up.
Actually the afternoon went well. I started with a problem with the microphone on my laptop and had to improvise with my phone, but after that it was fine. Everyone I expected was there. We made chickpea and tomato curry and the children decided for themselves how they wanted to season it. I was really pleased that some of the parents joined in too.
I began ‘Cooking with Grandma’ after a conversation with one girl in our church who was going through a change in her life. She said to me, ‘I think I’m going to fall away’.
It scares me that you can take children to church and they know all about Christ but they are still so fragile.
While cooking together we got to know each other and after a while she opened up to me a little. Things change if we start to think about what might be happening in a person’s life to make them behave in that way.
This week after we had cooked, we looked together at the opening of Ephesians, reading how God blesses us. He ‘chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.’
It’s easy for young people to absorb messages about themselves, that their identity is all about their success, their looks.
Looking at the Bible we talked together about our identity in Christ. He has chosen us and is with us from the very beginning to the very end.
I am telling the girls that I know there are times when they have something going on that they can’t discuss with their parents. I’m telling them that they can speak to God and to trust in him; he will look after you and he is ready to hear you.
Sarah Olumegbon is on the second and final year of LCMʼs Pioneer Programme – a part-time intensive discipleship and evangelism course for people who live in Londonʼs poorer communities. Find out more at lcm.org.uk/pioneers