In the African country of Zimbabwe, war trauma and high unemployment can leave people in despair—until they find hope on a “friendship bench.” Hopeless people can go there to talk with trained “grandmothers”—elderly women taught to listen to people struggling with depression, known in that nation’s Shona language as kufungisisa, or “thinking too much.”
The Friendship Bench Project is being launched in other places, including Zanzibar, London, and New York City. “We were thrilled to bits with the results,” said one London researcher. A New York counselor agreed. “Before you know it, you’re not on a bench, you’re just inside a warm conversation with someone who cares.”
The project evokes the warmth and wonder of talking with our Almighty God. Moses put up not a bench but a tent to commune with God, calling it the tent of meeting. There, “the
Today we no longer need a tent of meeting. Jesus has brought the Father near. As He told His disciples, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Yes, our God awaits us. He’s our heart’s wisest helper, our understanding Friend. Talk with Him now.
In Exodus 25:8, God gave Moses specific instructions for building a “tabernacle” or place of worship: “Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” In obedience to this command, Moses directed the building of a very elaborate, portable, tent-like structure (chs. 25–31). This dwelling was often referred to as the “tent of meeting” (27:21; 29:44; 40:2).
While God was giving Moses instructions on how to build the tabernacle, the children of Israel sinned by worshiping a golden calf (ch. 32). Now under God’s judgment (v. 35), they faced the threat of God not journeying with them (33:3). So Moses set up a “tent of meeting” outside the camp (vv. 7–11), which provided a degree of separation between God and His rebellious people. There Moses conducted God’s business with His people. This tent of meeting was a separate structure from the tabernacle described in chapters 25–31, which wasn’t completed until later (see 39:32).