Five loaves and two fish

A mosiac of Jesus feeding the 5000 in the Basilica of Sant' Appolinare Nuovo in Ravenna

A mosaic of Jesus feeding the 5000 in the Basilica of Sant’ Appolinare Nuovo in Ravenna

John tells an interesting story about a boy who gave his lunch to Jesus (John 6:1-14).  The synoptic gospels all record the story, but leave this lad out, which is a shame because he’s not got a big part in John, despite providing dinner for over 5,000 people.

The story is familiar to many of us, and is often told in Sunday School.  The people are hungry and there are no convenience stores nearby.  Jesus says to the disciples “You give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13) but they realise they haven’t got enough money and the boy’s lunch, (which we hope he gave freely), is all they’ve got.  So Jesus takes all they have, and multiplies it.

There are several lessons which mission workers can learn from this.

What we have is enough. So often it seems that there is never enough, be it money, people, resources,  or equipment.  Whatever we’ve got, we always feel we need more.  We ask for it and pray for it.  Yet in this situation what was clearly not enough in the disciples’ hands was enough for God.  If we are experiencing shortages, let’s not try to solve the problem themselves – let’s take the problem to Jesus.  Which leads us onto point 2:

We can solve the problem – if we change our thinking.  Jesus told the disciples to feed the people.  So they could have done… if they’d had the imagination and the faith.  What are the big challenges in our ministry?  How can we see them from God’s perspective?  How can we increase our faith so that we can believe for God’s miraculous provision for us?

We come to God just as we are.  We know nothing about this boy – his age, his intelligence, his social status.  It is not relevant to the story.  The point is that what he had, he gave to Jesus.  We can often fall into the trap of thinking we need more skills, knowledge or qualifications before God can use us.  This boy came to Jesus just as he was and gave him everything.  That was enough.

Being willing gets us used by God.  This boy could have sneaked off by himself and eaten his supper.  But he got involved and offered Jesus a solution.  We don’t know what happened to him, but I expect he kept on telling that story for the rest of his life.  Perhaps he became a disciple and taught others about being available for God.  Having seen Jesus at work in his life, surely he couldn’t just walk away!  His faith would have increased as a result of what he’d seen.

Jesus cares.  He didn’t just shrug his shoulders and say that they should have planned ahead.  He was concerned about their hunger.  Which is why we can come to him with confidence when we tell him what we need.  He’s not going to give us a stone or a snake, but bread and fish (Matthew 7:7-11).

It makes a great story when we get home.  Can you imagine that boy telling his mother that he didn’t eat all his lunch but shared it with thousands of others?  Telling the big stories of God’s provision for us is an opportunity to be a witness to those who don’t yet know him.

So this week let’s not bother about what we haven’t got, or what we think we need.  Let’s come to Jesus in the confidence that in his hands, what we already have is adequate, and what he will do with it is more than enough.

Travelling mercies – a new definition?

Missionary Paul Bennison reports on God’s incredible provision during his recent trip to Colombia….

If I’d been on my own, I’d have been loath to report this, but there were 4 of us from the UK, and two very dear friend Colombian pastors.  We’d been ministering in Buenaventura, on the coast.  On a good day, in daylight, it’s a 3 hour journey across an ‘interesting’ Andes mountain pass (!): two lanes, incredible bends and steep drops, many trucks and buses… not a road you want to drive at night!  Which is exactly what we found ourselves doing on the return to Cali!

Not only that, as we were about to leave at 10.30pm, an Andean thunder storm, with typical tropical rains, began.  We were already looking at a 4 hour journey,  now more likely to be 5+ hours.  You could hardly see out of the windscreen, even with the lights on high beam and the wipers flat out.  The roads become like rivers in an instant in such rain.

After one hour of this I was sitting in the back, beating myself up over why I have no problem in saying to sickness ‘Get out!’ or ‘Be healed in the Name of Jesus!’, but had a problem with saying ‘Peace be still!’…. so I decided to try and beat my mental battle by saying just that.  Within moments the storm seemed to move away from the car – we could still see it, hear it, and see the rain, but it had moved away from us!

At 12.20am, we were getting out of the car at our apartment block in Cali…. it took just 50 minutes to drive what should have taken over 4 hours!  It took some time to sink in: not only did God quieten the storm around us, but we know we missed large chunks of the journey home, or reaching landmarks much, much quicker than we should have done.  Maybe this is nothing unusual for you: perhaps being transported is more common than I know, but I have to confess it is the first time I recall it ever happening to me.

Moreover, the rain began again with its relentless hostility within 10 minutes of our getting back into Cali.  I’m now looking forward to missing out on some long haul airline flights, and just arriving in different countries!  It does happen – I just would like the air miles, too!!!

Paul Bennison is an itinerant missionary who regularly sees God’s miraculous provision in his ministry, particularly in healing.  You can read more about his exciting adventures in many countries at