The Miraculous and the Practical

Pastor Dick and Sandra Stark (Alexander City, AL) have shared some provocative thoughts concerning feeding the poor in their  beautiful summary below. Note Jesus’ response to his disciples in regards to feeding the hungry multitude that stood before them. Dick, Sandra, and their local church were forerunners in helping us get our feeding program up and running last year. Below are photos they took during their visit with us in May 2012.

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John 6:5 – … where shall we buy bread that these may eat?”

Jesus was not hesitant to put His disciples into a corner, even when He knew that the outcome would require far more than they were capable of (6:14). The disciples’ counsel was summoned to assess the situation. One complained that the sheer volume of food required to feed a crowd as large at that which had assembled that day would demand nearly a year’s wages for an average man. A second, who had polled the crowd to see what resources were available, found two small fish and five loaves of bread. His conclusion: “What are they among so many?” As true as it is that there is safety in a multitude of counselors, no workable solutions were forthcoming from their deliberations. Yet there was no doubt as to Jesus’ intent. He was determined that those who had come to hear Him would leave with full stomachs as well as full spirits. On that day Jesus instituted a “feeding program” under the most impossible of conditions.

The disciples looked over the crowd and concluded that even if a collection were taken, the sum would fall far short of the estimated 200 denarii it would take to feed them. A further obstacle was presented by the fact that they were in an isolated place. People could not be dismissed to seek nourishment since they would faint along the way. There were simply not enough resources available to feed that many hungry people. In light of how far away they were from the food supply, Jesus’ question (“Where shall we buy bread?”) seems almost like a rhetorical one, a question with no answer.

The most relevant of the responses to Jesus for our purposes, however, is, “What are they [these fishes and loaves] among so many?” We know where resources can be had. But what we have to give is a drop in a bucket in view of the overwhelming need! Like Jesus, Pritchard and Dana Adams chose to reinstitute their school feeding program under the most impossible of conditions. Economies around the globe are struggling to keep their heads above water. Food prices have skyrocketed globally and a drought in the Midwestern “corn belt” of the United States has driven up the price of oil. It is just not a good time to be trying to feed hungry school children. But let’s revisit Jesus’ words — “Where will we buy bread that these may eat?” He didn’t ask “how” will we buy bread, but “where”.

Jesus gave thanks and began to distribute, first to the disciples, and from the disciples to the multitude. I am not sure what has been raised thus far to help feed the 1,200 school children who will be returning to class in a few weeks, but right now the situation is like when Jesus’ disciples asked, “what are these few loaves among so many?” We begin by giving thanks for what has come in for the Haiti school feeding program and we trust that in so blessing the supply will be multiplied. The disciples merely handed out what was in their hands. As they did so, the supply multiplied until twenty-four hands distributed enough to feed 5,000. As you give to help feed hungry school children this year, give thanks for what you contributed and pray for it to be multiplied so that like those who ate that day, these children may have “as much as they want” (6:11).

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