What do five loaves and two fish, 180 gallons of water, and a penny have in common?
I’m sure the loaves and fish recall the feeding the five thousand. And it’s probably not too difficult to figure out that the 180 gallons of water represent part of the story found in John 2:6 where Jesus preformed the miracle at the wedding feast.
In both these events Jesus did not need the water or loaves and fish to perform the miracle. He could have made the wine without the water and fed the crowd by creating the food from nothing. But instead He chose to work in partnership with those present and used their meager resources to perform His miracle.
Now that just leaves the penny. Although a penny isn’t much in today’s economy, its all God needed to create a modern day miracle at the Decatur Tenn. church.
The story began early in January of this year. The small Out Reach Committee met for its first meeting, the discussion centered on ministry opportunities and available resources. They quickly decided they wanted to be in the center of God’s work and use Christ’s earthly ministry as their model. Two stories helped formulate the strategy.
The first strategy came from the story of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:34-36. This gave them the opportunity to work with the needy of their community thru the local County Ministries. We offered services in:
· Home repairs for needy.
· Transportation to the doctor for the elderly.
· Single-parent childcare so they can run errands.
· Wheel chair ramps for the disabled.
· And many others.
The second focus came from the event described shortly after the Transfiguration in Matthew 10:14-16. Here Jesus invites the children to come to Him. Decatur is a small church and in need of more children to make them complete. That’s where the penny comes in.
To get the attention of the children the Decatur church members decided to do something that had never been done by their church or anyone else in their small town. They decided to host a community wide, family event celebrating the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. They decided to have a “School is Out Penny Fair”.
The fair was to be held the first Sunday afternoon in June (immediately after the close of school). They would promote it with:
· A flier to go home from school with every child in the county.
· Posters in the local super market, hardware and thrift store.
· Large four color banners on the main city highway.
Church members eagerly volunteered to create a carnival like atmosphere by personally decorating tents and creating an interactive game experience. Some activities included: petting zoo, pony rides, mustache photo booth, football and ring tosses, cake walk, dunk tank, bounce house, trick horseback riding, and much more.
The importance of children properly washing their hands and the principles of NEWSTART were featured at the “Germs and Health” tent.
Participation from the community included emergency vehicles from the Meigs County Fire and Rescue and the American Red Cross. Live musicians set a festive tone with their music, as well as, providing one on one opportunity for each child to play and interact with real musical instruments.
Everyone was treated to food, fun, and fellowship on a sunny afternoon (weather forecast earlier in the week had an 80% chance of rain)!
And what about the Penny and Miracle? The church provided the penny; all events cost just one penny (the church provided the pennies). God provided the miracle! The miracle began with the church. The entire church family participated in booth preparation, the 24/7 prayer season or booth duty the day of the event.
Decatur is a city of about 2,000, and it is estimated that over 15% of the town’s population (300+ potential Adventist parents and children) attended the fair. There was even an emergency brake job. A college student member of the church discovered a visitor needed their front brakes replaced in order to make it to a job interview on Monday. He immediately offered his tools and expertise to the visitor and solved the problem. And finally, over 50 community children pre-registered for the upcoming VBS program!
It was a blessing to see how the Lord used the talents and interests of each member of the Decatur church as a witness and encouragement to so many children and their families in the Decatur community.
by Don Shelton