Written by: Sarah Rodrigues | JMA National Director
“…You give them something to eat.” – Jesus
How hard would be for you to imagine someone who has never celebrated Thanksgiving? Or a person who has never tasted the irresistible flavor of stuffing, or a juicy turkey, and, of course, that sweet potato casserole with marshmallow on top? Sadly, that was me for over 20 years of my life. I know, I don’t know how I made it! Truly, aside from the God-given gift to pause and count our blessings, the time around the table, friends, and food easily became one of my favorite things in life. How did I go so long without it?
Being from Brazil, that was truly not a “thing” in our country. I remember it vividly. The year was 2003 when I sat around a table with an American family to experience my first Thanksgiving. I was younger and hungry. I remember tasting bites and bites of those traditional Thanksgiving foods and honestly thinking, “Can I please get a to-go box?” Luckily, without me even asking (maybe my face gave it away), they were gracious and generous enough to send me home with a box.
As I write to you, I sense a question in my spirit pondering if I would give that box of heavenly goods away to anyone who needed a meal at my home. It would be a battle in my spirit, I imagine, but the truth is that we will never know. The Bible, however, tells us about a few occasions when a “to-go box” fed not only one but thousands.
One instance in particular is told in the Gospel of Mark 6:30-44. It is a very famous occasion when Jesus feeds a multitude of people with the help of his disciples out of a handful of items from people’s “to-go boxes.” Yes, a small to-go box fed over five thousand people. That makes me consider sharing my heavenly-goods box!
As we have read that passage many times, it was always easy to glean several things:
- Jesus sees the people around Him and has compassion for them–almost inviting us to see “them” as well, and allow compassion to move us toward what moves Him;
- He says, “You give them something to eat” as a clear affirmation that those who walked with Him were part of the answer to the needs around them–maybe hoping that would be true today as well as generations and generations later.
- And of course, the beautiful question, “How many loaves do you have?” As he was asking me on that Thanksgiving evening, “Sarah, what do you have in that little to-go box? Do you want to see what I can do with it or just hold on to it?”
Can you imagine the faces of those who gave those loaves and fish watching thousands being fed with their little?
If you have been to or seen the Amazon, you know we don’t have hills like those Jesus was teaching on. But, we sure have boats somewhat like those He stepped out of towards those who needed a Savior. Often, as we step out of our boats and see the crowds, we can still hear His voice telling us: “You feed them”, or asking us, “How many loaves do you have?” My team has seen Him “feed thousands” through the years with very small “to-go boxes.”
What a gift that He invites us today to be a part of what He is still doing around the world. Our JMI family prays and hopes that compassion will always move us towards loving and caring for others.