Summary: A sermon about how God can do a lot with a little.
It was raining heavily on September 9, 2015 when half of the former extended stay hotel on N. Mack Smith Road—called the Superior Creek Lodge—was condemned and immediately shut down by the city of East Ridge.
Approximately 800 people were out on the street, with all their belongings, in the dark and rain.
The next day, counselors from Spring Creek Elementary School were over here at the church speaking with me.
We were the only ones in the building at the time.
Many of the approximately 150 children who lived at the Superior Creek Lodge were students at Spring Creek.
The counselors were worried because so many kids from the Lodge had not made it to school that day.
They were wondering if we knew where they were, since we had been running a mentoring, tutoring and feeding program for the kids—East Ridge Cares 4 Kids for the past several years.
As we were talking, Marcy Hall called me and said: “They have closed the rest of the Lodge.”
I looked at the panicked counselors.
And then, I made a decision that I really had no real authority to make, but I made it on faith.
I said, “East Ridge United Methodist Church will be a shelter for the people of Superior Creek Lodge—active immediately.”
When I say I made this decision on faith, I mean, I made it on the faith that a big God would use just a few people in a small church to try and take care of the needs of 1,700 desperate homeless persons.
Before I knew it, many of you in this room were here working the phones and getting things set up.
We were the only church in this city and town to take the initiative—even though there are many, many churches that are much bigger and have many more resources to work with.
But you guys took care of the situation.
This building and the people of this church became the epicenter of a humanitarian crisis, a virtual media storm, and a major miracle center—where God used just a handful of folks to feed and house nearly 2,000.
And before we knew it, financial help and physical help from people all over the city, from different United Methodist Churches and individuals all over town came flooding in.
We took in $65,000 dollars in donations in an incredibly short period of time, and through your efforts—72 families were placed in permanent housing.
So if anyone thinks that the miracle the feeding of the 5,000 was not an actual event—well, I can understand where they are coming from…
…but we’ve seen this kind of stuff happen right in our midst.
So, it’s good to remember these miracle stories.
And that’s really what it is.
As I tell it, I find it almost too hard to believe.
There is no way we could have done all that on our own.
There is no way.
Many of us were just working on auto-pilot.
It really was God’s miracle—not ours.
Which, I think, kind of brings out a kind of false narrative in my thinking and the thinking of…perhaps…most of us when we think of ministry.
And that false narrative is: “We can’t do that!!!”
“We don’t have enough people.”
“We don’t have enough resources.”
“We don’t have enough time.”
“We don’t have enough money.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish—that’s barely enough to feed 1 person let alone 5,000.”
Not too long ago, I was speaking with someone—I can’t remember who—about some of the ministries that currently take place in this church.
I told them about the Monday evening feeding program where we make more than 100 sack meals a week and take them directly to people living in dire straits within a mile or two of our church building.
Then I told them about the Food Pantry which feeds, on average, 50-60 people a week.
I told them about how much food is purchased, stocked, distributed and so forth.
Their first question was: “How many members do you have in your church? It must be huge.”
You should have seen the expressions on their faces when I told them.
I’m not saying all this stuff, for us to get big heads.
I’m saying this stuff so that when we start feeling overwhelmed by the needs…
…when we start feeling powerless in the face of such humongous problems…
…when we start questioning whether we can go on…
…when we begin to doubt what God can do with little old me or little old you or this little church—we will remember and be confident in knowing that we have everything we need in order to do what Jesus Christ is calling us to do!!!
It’s right here.