Tell your pastor to come get his cross. It’s blocking my driveway.
Denise and her family attend a small church that has big dreams. And bigger prayers. Each year the congregation asks God to lead them to a place in which they can “make a difference” for Him. Sometimes God sends them to a place nearby, but often the call is to a needy community in a neighboring country. Usually Mexico.
“When we’re planning a mission trip the first thing we do is pray for God’s leading,” Denise explains. “Once we know where we’re going to work, we send someone to visit and listen to the folk, to see what they might like us to do. Then we start raising money for the construction, travel, food, and a hundred other expenses.”
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This time God led Denise’s church to a small congregation, Iglesia El Buen Pastor, in Juárez, Mexico. They sent a member to see exactly what the congregation needed. The report was grim. The Juárez church building needed to be painted inside and out. The roof was leaking and would have to be rebuilt. They also needed new chairs, lots of materials for the children’s programs, some plants around the church, and tons of Spanish Bibles.
“Mission trips like this are the best thing our church does,” Denise explains. “They bring us together in service. Sure, they take a lot of work, but because we’re doing the work together, and because we have to pray our way through all of the challenges, these adventures in faith make our congregation stronger.
“Our mission team worked hard right along with the members of the church in Juárez. The weather was hot, and we all quickly sweated through our clothes. The men rebuilt the roof and worked on a dozen other maintenance projects. All of us painted the church—inside and outside—till it shone like new.”
When Denise’s team was done with everything on the list, they decided to hold a celebration party, a huge party, for all the local church members.
“We thought that maybe 40 or 50 people might come to the party. So I went
to the store and bought 40 packages of cookies, crackers, and doughnuts, along with 25 gallons of juice,” Denise says. “At first about 20 people came, then 30, then 45, then 70. Finally more than 150 people crowded into the small church.
Every chair was filled, and people were standing like sardines against the wall.”
The pastor led the evening’s worship service, and the entire congregation sang, prayed, and celebrated God’s love. At the end of the service 35 people wiggled through the crowd to the platform and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. You should have heard the celebration! These were 35 people who had never even set foot in a church before that night.
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It was a wonderful evening, but now it was obvious that Denise hadn’t gotten enough food and juice for everyone. It was too late to go back into town and buy more, so Denise slipped over to the pastor and told him the terrible truth.
“We don’t have enough food and juice for the crowd. We were told to expect 20, so we planned for 50. But there are 150 people!”
“No, Denise,” the pastor said, “there are more than 150 people. You didn’t count the ones standing outside hoping to get in. But it’s OK. Let’s just pray and give out what we have.”
Denise and the pastor prayed over the food and asked everyone to line up and come past the tables that had been set up in the back room of the church.
“We put out some cookies, crackers, and doughnuts, and one of the women poured cups of juice,” says Denise. “As the people began coming, I knew for sure that we wouldn’t have anywhere near enough of anything, but we kept on pouring the juice and setting out the cookies, the crackers, and the doughnuts anyway. When the crackers or cookies ran out, I reached into the big cardboard box and pulled out another bag. When we needed more doughnuts, I just pulled out a box of a dozen more. When the juice had all been poured, I reached into the refrigerator and pulled out another gallon. We had been able to squeeze only 25 gallons of juice into the refrigerator, and I didn’t even think to count how many I pulled out. I just kept pulling and pouring and smiling and celebrating with the crowd.”
Somehow, through God’s powers of multiplication, and a lot of work from the angels from “supply,” there was enough for everyone to have firsts, seconds, and even thirds. People were really hungry!
After the crowd left, Denise opened the refrigerator, which should have been empty, and saw that it still held seven gallons of juice. Surprised and overwhelmed she then went to the trash bins and began counting the empties.
“I counted more than 80 empty plastic juice jugs and far more than 100 empty boxes of cookies, crackers, and doughnuts in the trash bins,” Denise remembers. “I had bought only 25 gallons of juice and 40 boxes of snacks! Even crazier, the big cardboard box was full. It had 12 untouched boxes of crackers, 12 unused boxes of cookies, and 12 brand new boxes of doughnuts!”
Remember the story about Jesus feeding 5,000 people on a hill beside the Sea of Galilee? He started with one little boy’s lunch and had 12 baskets of food left over. Later, when He fed the 4,000, there were seven baskets of food left over! Just like Denise’s cookies and juice!
“Where did all the cookies come from, and how did the juice get into the refrigerator? I don’t know. It just came from God,” Denise says. “Whenever I reached in for more, God gave me what we needed. It just appeared! I have seen the blessing of food as God made an abundance come from the little bit we had. He even multiplied the doughnuts!”