ALTAR CALL: The loaves in your hand
GOD USES ordinary people who are willing to do as He commands, Pastor Esther Willoughby preached.
God, he said, revealed this in Mark 6: 35-41 through the lad who gave Jesus’ disciples his five loaves of bread and two fishes. After Jesus had prayed over this small sacrifice, a multitude of about 5 000 people were miraculously fed, yet 12 baskets of scraps were collected.
“What is in your hand? How many loaves have you?” asked Pastor Willoughby of those gathered at Bethel Methodist Church for a recent World Day Of Prayer service, one of many held to mark the occasion.
Those gathered, including members of the Anglican, Wesleyan, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches throughout the City’s environs, were told that there were many things they could do to help those in need.
“God is not asking you to do things beyond you; see what is in your hands and ask God what you can do to help a person in need,” Willoughby stressed.
She told the congregation that God utilises our abilities, talents and gifts, and we must be willing to use them for His honour and glory.
The Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church preacher said many children were being sexually abused by their fathers and stepfathers and were in need of help and counselling. She also said there were others who needed clothing in order to attend Sunday School, and pleaded with her listeners to make contributions to such children.
“What do you have to share that is symbolic of the loaves?” Willoughby asked.
She told them they could contribute to the lives of children; clean the homes of the elderly or the church; assist the Young Men’s Christian Association with their breakfast feeding programme; give donations to those infected with HIV/AIDS; help the incarcerated; give time to and pray for those who are hospitalised; assist a student or neighbour with lunch money; or give someone a loving touch.
Willoughby said the feeding of the 5 000 people, who had followed Jesus as he preached and were later very hungry, brought out the significant truth that “God is concerned about our spiritual as well as our physical needs”.
“Jesus recognized the people had a need – a hunger and thirst for spiritual food. He also recognized that after being fed spiritually, they needed food for the body.
“Jesus is interested in our physical, spiritual, emotional, social, psychological and financial needs,” she pointed out.
She added that, like the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4: 8-17 who gave her last meal to the prophet Elisha, God takes notes of what we do and are doing to help others.
Willoughby said the lessons taught from the feeding of the 5 000 were: with God nothing is impossible, and little becomes much when placed in the Father’s hand.
How Many Loaves Have You? was the theme for the service, which was punctuated with special ministry in song. Prayers were also made on the behalf of Chile.
Loaves of bread lay on the altar as a reminder of the biblical story, and what we can do to help others.