The Never-Ending Supply
Like many churches nationwide, ours has home groups (often called cell groups) that meet twice a month on Sunday evenings, with breaks during July and December.
Once per “semester,” each group tackles some form of community outreach. This spring ours decided to visit a home that offers a combination of assisted living and skilled nursing care.
At first we weren’t sure whether spending time with residents would mean visiting room-to-room or something else. The activities director decided the best option would be some kind of spiritual program in their second-floor community room.
Drama of Life
We didn’t do anything profound or revolutionary that Sunday. We had prayer, sang a pair of old, traditional hymns that elderly folks would know, and presented a devotional.
Afterwards, our group (which included three children 7 or younger) circulated among residents to chat and hand out the lap blankets we had purchased.
This is where the story gets interesting. To keep the costs down for everyone, each couple had purchased the blankets, which were on sale at a local store. Trouble is, my wife forget to load ours into the car as were leaving home.
We counted the inventory on the street before going inside. We had 15 blankets. At that point, not knowing whether just a handful of people would show up, we thought maybe we’d be all right despite the unexpected shortage.
To our surprise, 18 residents awaited our group’s arrival. Trying to decide how to adjust, we thought maybe we could leave them at a nurses’ station and let them distribute them as needed. That way, no one would feel left out.
Miracle at Work
Instead, on the spur of the moment we decided to go ahead and pass out the blankets. The youngsters took some, and smiled like moonbeams as they handed them to the residents. The activities director took a couple, too. We thought she would pass up one woman who already had a blanket on her lap, but she gave the woman one.
On we continued, back and forth, until all 18 people had a blanket. With only 15 blankets when we walked in the door.
We are still shaking our heads over this apparent miracle, which reflects—albeit in a small way—the feeding of the 5,000 described in Matthew 14:15-20, Mark 6:35-43 and Luke 9:12-17.
Abundance of Fish
The following Wednesday, we brought up the incident at a mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting at church. The pastor said it reminded him of what happened during the early days of our congregation—before we had moved back to the area—when the church’s home was rented space at the civic arena.
The church held a carnival as a community outreach. The event included a gift for children—free goldfish, the kind that typically have a short lifespan, but still provide some amusement to wide-eyed youngsters.
Since the church then had fewer than 20 members and limited resources—and no idea how many kids would show up—it ordered 200 fish. Because of problems during the shipping, about 25 percent of them died en route.
What’s more, when organizers looked out the front door, the line of kids stretched down the block. The best guess is there were at least 500, or more than three times as many fish as were on hand.
The man putting the fish in water-filled baggies before passing them to another volunteer said, “I’ll just hand out fish until they’re gone.”
That time never came. Not only did every kid get a fish, several got two, and there were several left over. Though you will never see this kind of story on network news, God still works in mysterious ways.