One of the most precious memories I have of Donna is the mission trip we took together to Guatemala. She went twice as part of a medical team, and I went once, with her, and went to Guatemala another time, driving through Mexico.
Doing a mission trip is an expensive proposition, true now, but true then, too. The plane tickets were, I think, about $1500 each, and there was also the medicine that needed to be bought, and the equipment that needed to be brought with us. We each were responsible for 2 suitcases, but our clothes and stuff only went into one. The other bag was medicine or eyeglasses.
And all of that gathering took money. I was a starving seminary student, and both Donna and I were going, so we were in some need of help. There were 10 or so people on the team, and while some of them were able to pay their own way, by no means did everyone have the ability.
So we had fundraisers. The biggest one was an auction of items donated by supporters. We all were responsible for the finding of items, and came up with things like gift baskets, a handmade quilt, gift certificates to Dallas area restaurants (and Dallas is a GREAT restaurant town), and the like. Then we got a call from someone who wanted to donate their boat. Stuff came from places we didn’t expect, and the auction was a great success.
Now, when we went to Guatemala, I was darn near useless. We had an optometrist, the leader was a dentist, a doc, and a Nurse practitioner, who would do the women’s medicine behind held up shawls. The dentist had limited tools, and couldn’t fill cavities the way he would back in the U.S. so he had to just pull really bad ones. He “slicked up” quite a few people that week. We took sunglasses to help with the UV-induced blindness the farmers in mountains that high that near the equator suffer from, and prescription glass for those who were tested by the optometrist. We had a pharmacist who dispensed lots of Bactrim and sulfa drugs, the cheapest meds we could take.
It was a wonderful trip, and for the people we met, we helped. Did we help every Indian in the Guatemalan highlands? No. But we were mighty important to the ones we met.
None of that trip would have been possible if there hadn’t have been an idea, and a trust in faith that our resources did not control our ministry. We had faith beyond the visible resources, and through God’s grace, it got done. And Phil, the dentist and leader, did this trip about 6 times before finally moving down there.
Jesus is the epitome of trusting beyond the available resources.
Philip’s eyes get all big and saucerish when he sees all of these people coming to hear Jesus and be healed by him. Jesus is almost teasing when he asks Philip, “well, how are we going to feed all these people?” Andrew pipes in saying “well, there’s this kid with five loaves of barley bread and two fish.” So Jesus takes one and breaks it in half, and hands one half to someone. Then he breaks it in half again, and hands that away. Then he breaks it half again, and then again, and then again. And so all of these 5000 people are fed. And remember: in Biblical times, those counts actually counted just men: there were more, because there must have been wives, and children along, too!
So they discover that, out of lunch for 5 people they have fed thousands. And the crowd wants to make Jesus king right then and there. And he disappears up the mountain rather than allow that. Later, when the disciples are crossing the lake, he’s walking along on top of it, and they want him to get into the boat with them. He makes the boat go immediately to the far shore, like Josiah will sometimes open automatic doors in grocery stores with his “Jedi” powers.
God will not be controlled. So the story is for us that we can do great things in the name of God, through the power of God, if we will follow God. If we trust beyond our available, visible resources, we can do great things.
Imagination is one of our greatest gifts from God. What are the needs of this community? How could we creatively address them? Do not think first of budgets, or resources. We know from this story that if it is of God, the resources will come. So what is needed? What can this church do to serve the Kingdom of God?
--Pastor Drew, 7/29/12.