Mark D. Roberts

As I was driving along in San Antonio recently, I glimpsed a sign that grabbed my attention. Since I wasn’t quite sure I saw it right, I did a big loop to confirm my I had seen (not an easy task with San Antonio frontage roads, by the way). Sure enough, at the Las Palapas restaurant along 1604 in north San Antonio, there were two unusual signs.
One of the signs read: “More Valuable: A Good Reputation than Riches.” This is a paraphrase of Proverbs 22:1, which reads in the NLT: “Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.”
The other sign read: “Open 24 Hours. Closed Sunday: Family and Worship.” Now you don’t see that sort of thing every day, even in Texas. When I lived in Irvine, I remember one business that closed on Sunday – a bread shop owned by Mormons.
After I got home from San Antonio, I did a little research on Las Palapas.
First, a “palapa” is an open-sided, thatched-roof structure that you’d find on a tropical island. It’s sometimes called a tiki hut.  The word seems to come from a “American Spanish” word for palm tree.
Las Palapas is a Tex-Mex restaurant chain in San Antonio, with eleven locations. It was founded in 1981 by Ron Acosta. Here’s how the Las Palapas website explains its Sunday closing policy:

Las Palapas began closing on Sunday to allow employees time with families and an opportunity to worship if they so desire.  According to Ron, honoring God is not just about closing on Sundays it is about identifying people everyday with needs and then doing what you can to help them.  Ron attributes his success to the grace of God.

I noticed that Las Palapas promotes a charitable foundation called Jireh, with the tag line: “Serving Widows and Orphans.” Here’s the website data on Jireh:

Many people have helped Ron during the seasons of his life and because of this he has a desire to give back to others. Therefore, Ron and his wife Elssy founded the Jireh Foundation, to assist in caring for widows and orphans. Throughout the city of San Antonio, there are widows and orphans that the Jireh Foundation helps support financially on a monthly basis. Jireh also assists many other non-profit organizations and businesses in the San Antonio community.

The word “Jireh” comes from the Hebrew verb that means “to see,” or sometimes “to provide.” It is used as a name for God in Genesis 22:14. The KJV reads: “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” A few verses earlier, jireh [now transliterated as yireh] is rendered in the KJV as “to provide” – “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide [yireh] himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Gen 22:8). Both verses come from the story in which Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac. But God provided a ram for the sacrifice.
I’ve never eaten at Las Palapas. But I’m going to do so soon. I like good Tex-Mex cuisine. But, even more, I love seeing a Christian entrepreneur who lives out his faith in the context of business. If there’s any way I can support him, I’m eager to do it, especially if it means buying some Tex-Mex food.

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