Every Sunday morning about 25 members of a small Spanish-speaking church gather in their meager church kitchen to make burritos. Using a combination of food taken from their own refrigerators as well as donations they’ve received, they cook whatever they have and form an assembly line to make as many burritos as they can. They pack up whatever they’ve made and travel to one of the poorest neighborhoods in the area. There they meet those who are homeless and give them everything they’ve made. They set up tables and chairs and shade covering so that everyone has a place to sit and eat and fellowship with one another.
When I asked if I could come with them one Sunday I asked the leader of this small group, Gloria, if there was anything I could bring. She said simply, “We need sugar.”
“Sugar?” I asked.
“Yes, for the coffee.”
It seemed so simple and so small. I knew that this church was poor. Gloria told me that herself. She told me they would come together on Sundays never sure how much they would have to give. I felt guilty. I persisted in asking her, was there something more I could bring? Was sugar enough? She assured me it was.
I have to admit I struggled a bit with this task. In the days leading up to that Sunday it just didn’t seem like I was bringing enough. I reluctantly went to the store but the whole time I wondered if I should be doing something else, something more. Even that morning I was a little embarrassed to only be carrying a 5 lb. bag of sugar as I walked through the back alley to the church.
As I walked up to the kitchen one of the ladies spotted me and the bag I was carrying from several yards away. She yelled out, “SUGAR!” as she came running out of the kitchen. She joyfully grabbed the sugar from my hands, graciously patted me on the back, then called out to Gloria in Spanish, “We’ve got SUGAR!” before running back inside.
It was the warmest and most unusual greeting from a stranger I have ever gotten. It also put me completely at ease. So much joy from a simple bag of sugar. It was what they needed and I was so glad I didn’t let my doubts sway me from following through with that simple request.
That morning was an unforgettable experience. The amount of food this small group was able to provide was amazing. Although Gloria had told me they were never sure how much they would have each week she also told me they always had enough. God provided enough each week, sometimes from the most unusual sources. She said she would often get calls the day before from bakeries or markets asking her to come by to pick up food that would otherwise go to waste. Every Sunday was a surprise as to where the food would come from, but there was always enough. God made sure of that. That week I was a small part of God’s miracle. They had no sugar until I arrived.
I recently read the story in John 6 where Jesus fed the five thousand. What stood out to me most in this story was the faith of Jesus’ disciple Andrew. After seeing the large crowd gather Jesus challenged his disciple Philip with this question, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (Jesus already knew what he was going to do. He was only testing Philip with his question.)
Philip responded, “Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
But then, here comes Andrew. Andrew said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far with they go among so many?”
Even though Andrew wasn’t sure how far it would go, he at least had faith enough to see the potential in this boy’s lunch. How easy it would have been for him to ignore those measly scraps, chalking it up to impossible and joining Philip in the “we don’t have enough” rant. But Andrew didn’t do that. He brought to Jesus what he had. As we know from the story it was more than enough. With that small offering, Jesus was able to feed the 5,000 (which was most likely 15,000 if you include women and children) and have 12 baskets of leftovers to boot!
How many opportunities have I missed because I think what I have to give is too small? Whether I am coming from a place of wealth or a place of poverty nothing is too small for God to use in miraculous ways. After all it’s not about me! It’s all about Him and bringing Him glory. It’s about offering what we have no matter how big or how small and giving it to the Lord to do with as He wishes.
Lord, forgive me for the times that I have missed being a part of your miraculous touch in someone else’s life. Forgive me for making it about me. All I have is yours. Help me to live that way, not just say it. Lord, put me in tuned with your Spirit so intimately that I know His nudge, His voice, His urging to reach out with little or with much to show others your great love for them. Continue to bless Gloria and the ministry you started in that little church to make an eternal difference in the lives of so many. Thank you for their faithfulness and their example. Use me and what you have given me everyday for your glory. In Jesus name, amen.