Community Group Recipe: Ramona's Mississippi Roast
WORDS BY LAUREN KOSKI
“There will be grilled-cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and dogs playing in the backyard.”
I looked into the smiling face of Ramona Coffman, a deaconess at my new church in Amarillo, Texas, and could feel the authenticity of her invitation. Usually, my Friday nights consisted of working late and binging on Netflix to numb the ache of loneliness in a city where I knew no one.
Ramona’s idea of a Friday night was very different from my own, and it was the most interesting invitation I’d ever received to a community group or Bible study. Personally, I’m more of a cat person but my introverted-cat-lady soul was tempted to see what this group of women was all about.
So I arrived at 6 p.m. and, in a rookie move, rang the doorbell. I could hear female voices ringing inside the house and, sure enough, barking dogs. This group of women ran the gamut — eager college students, new believers and seasoned believers, transplants from other states, grandmothers, teachers, single mothers, and even a token friend from a different church — and most of them had dogs they hated to leave home alone on a Friday night.
I quickly fell for this community that relished after-church lunches together, raw prayer requests, following thunderstorms across the Texas-Panhandle plains, and reading through James on Saturday afternoons while slurping Chick-fil-A Frosted Coffees (if you haven’t discovered these already, you’re welcome).
Within a month, I stopped ringing the doorbell and my iPhone began doing that creepy, “It’ll-take-you-11-minutes-to-get-to-Ramona’s-house” thing every Friday night.
Within six months, I’d found a safe place to expose and battle some of my darkest sins.
Within one year after meeting these women, when I moved 1,100 miles away from them, I cried.
And while we shared some dang-good food together, this community thrived not because food is a historically good reason to gather, but because of the habit of receiving Christ’s gift together, of gathering to reflect on what He did for us, and take of His sacrifice knowing He is who binds us together despite our sin, despite our differences.
I craved time with these women because they encouraged me to crave my Savior more.
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
So Ramona would like to share some good, ol’ Southern comfort food with you, kindreds. It’s simple and can be left simmering in your mom’s old, flower-painted Crock-Pot hours before your community group or Bible study arrives.
“You put it on in the morning and forget about it,” she says. “And everyone shows up and they bring sides to share; it’s a community effort. Good food, good people, and good conversation — especially when you talk about Jesus.”
Ramona’s Mississippi Roast
- 1 three-pound shoulder roast
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 packet of ranch dressing mix
- 1 packet of au jus mix
- 3 pepperoncinis
Toss in a crockpot, turn the dial to low, and forget about it for eight hours. Best served with potluck sides and conversation about Jesus.