Deep Fried Chicks….and an Unlikely Friendship


Most people didn’t notice him.

Every day he sat cross-legged on the same piece of sidewalk in the busyiest shopping district in our city, playing his 2-stringed instrument.  He had a small cardboard box in front of him, hoping for the tossed change of a merciful passerby.  He had a head full of gray hair, green army-colored jacket and pants, and sometimes his shoes were worn so thin you could see through the bottoms.

And my kids called him Grandpa.

The unlikely friendship that began between a beggar on the street in Asia and 4 American boys is one of those stories that you can’t quite imagine is true, yet our hearts burst with its reality.  It’s a story that began in impossibilities, and ended in eternal hallelujahs.

The boys bought him a blanket for Christmas.

They would call out, “Hey, Grandpa!” and wave every time they passed by.  They would stop simply to talk.

He would reach into his cardboard box and pull out change and order them to go buy themselves popsicles.

He gave them a note at Chinese New Year that said, “Grandpa loves you.  I want you to study hard and grow up to be good men.”

And then one day he invited us to dinner.  What began as meal full of dishes we couldn’t identify ended in an event of eternal consequence.

I’ve lived in Asia a long time.  But, I had never seen what that waitress brought out for the first dish.  It was a basket, lined with white paper, and filled with clearly recognizable deep-fried CHICKS.  I mean, the entire chick.   My boys’ eyeballs shot out of their faces.  As if in slow motion at the horror of what he was witnessing, one of the boys slowly pushed his chair away from the table.  I urgently whispered to them, “Don’t react.  Don’t react.  Just smile.  Just wait.”

As the waitress set the basket down on the table, Grandpa turned to the boys with his big, crooked-teeth smile, and whispered, “I got that one for you.  I thought you’d like that!”

I turned to one side to whisper some crazy, cross-culturally appropriate, hope-filled words to one of my sons, something like, “Just let him put one on your plate.  You don’t have to eat it.  But, just smile and let him do that.”

As I was turned that way, little did I know that Grandpa had already placed a chick on the plate of  another son, Peter, on the opposite side.  I turned back, ready to express the same crazy words to Peter, only to see him grab that deep-fried chick, and bite its whole head off!

Yes.  All the way down to the neck.

His brothers looked on in shock, fear, and trembling.  This was a cross-cultural moment they had never had to face before.  Peter simply chewed, shrugged his shoulders, and sighed, “Kinda spicy.”

The dinner itself would’ve been enough to end the evening with a book full of stories.  But, that was not nearly the end.

That night Grandpa invited us to his home.  After months and months of this unlikely friendship growing and sharing and loving, Grandpa finally understood THE love that compelled it all.

Deep Fried

In this overseas life, we say a lot of goodbyes.  We welcome friends into our life…and all too soon have to let them go.  Our hearts break at the pain of saying all of these farewells to ones we love on both sides of the ocean.

But, the Author of our story continues to amaze us with new friendships, often from the most unlikely places.  He never ceases to bring new lives across our paths, to write new chapters and new characters into our story.  If I was writing the story, I never would’ve thought to add in a Chinese grandpa who was a beggar on the street.  But, God sure did.   And it’s a chapter I will forever be thankful that He added.


What new friendships has God brought into your story?  And what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever been served, and did you eat it?!



  1. Holly Dove December 4, 2013

    What a beautiful story. <3

    1. Renee December 4, 2013

      Thanks, Holly. It was such a wake up call for me to remember to slow down…to look for friendships instead of following my tendency to hurry along with my to-do list each day.

      1. Morielle December 5, 2013

        The kind of wake up call I seem to need (and get) all the time! Thanks for sharing this lovely story.

  2. Kimberly Todd December 5, 2013

    I love it when my kids walk right into something that gives me pause, like Peter chomping the head off a chick. It’s just fantastic. Strangest thing I’ve been served is lamb’s tail – slimy, not quite crunchy, but too tough to chew. Put it in my mouth, but (hopefully discretely) spit it into my napkin. Looked at Nick in time to see him swallow it whole.

    1. Renee December 5, 2013

      That is hilarious, Kim! I love that you got to SEE that moment when Nick put the whole tail in. Yes. One of those moments you absolutely knew you had married up.

      1. Kimberly Todd December 5, 2013


  3. Jennifer December 5, 2013

    A great story… that really does capture the heart of what really is most important. May we never lose sight of that.

    1. Renee December 5, 2013

      Thanks, Jennifer. I love those precious times when we get to see the veil pulled back just a bit — and see that God is up to something where we least expect it.

  4. Kristi December 5, 2013

    Thank you so much for this story. It brought tears to my eyes to see the unexpected ways the Author of all history weaves our stories together with those we would least expect. This plot twist of love, joy, and hope is truly beautiful.

  5. Amy Young December 5, 2013

    Most bizarre (to me) stressful food I’m eaten was when I was at my Chinese mama’s house and that precious woman had made us a feast … complete with sheep’s brain. I did eat a bit, but just a tiny bit. I wish I could go back and try and shove move down. I was too in the moment and not enough in the big picture.

  6. Ashley December 5, 2013

    Love this story. Weirdest thing I was served and had to eat in order not to offend was cow hoof while in Nigeria. It was chewy. Very chewy.

  7. emily thomas December 5, 2013

    Love this precious story!
    I opened a to-go container once in China and found fried chicks my husband had bought. I remember their bulging closed eyes. Super gross! I didn’t eat them. I asked that they be removed from the refrigerator for-e-ver.

    1. Renee December 6, 2013

      I really want to know how those ended up in your fridge. Ha! Did your husband order them on purpose? Or was it one of those wonderful language moments when he THOUGHT he had ordered something quite different? One time we ended up with an entire plate of chicken NECKS. Yeah, not what we thought we said to the waitress.

  8. Ashley December 6, 2013

    This is a fantastic story. I’m going to make sure MY four boys read it before we head back to Asia in a few weeks. I’d love to find a way to connect with you more over e-mail and talk about raising four boys in our host country.

    1. Renee December 6, 2013

      Ashley, wow! Four boys! It is a wild ride, isn’t it?! I would love to connect with you, too. Raising our boys here has taught me more than I could have imagined about myself…about human nature (man, how many times has my job been more as a referee than mom?)… But mostly, it has taught me about the undeniable, unstoppable grace of God. Let’s talk more!

  9. Ashley December 6, 2013

    Renee, I’d love to connect over e-mail. How do we do that? Feel free to e-mail me if you have access to my e-mail address through this.

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