Serving in Ministry with 5 loaves and 2 fish
Updated: Jan 26
But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” Matthew 14:16-17
I tend to panic and be anxious when I am unprepared. In my previous job, I was the ultimate over-preparer. I would check and double-check my reports and triple-check my formulas. I would spend hours pre-thinking about every possible question I would get and researching answers. In presentations, I would practice and memorize to look effortless as I spouted out statistics and numbers. One of my favorite quotes by Dwight D Eisenhower is, "In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." I liked it so much I would put it on top of the budgets I prepared before sending it off to the CEO.
So far in the mission field, there have been many instances where Jon and I have been faced with challenges that we were unprepared for. As I took on the role of English teacher, I was wholly unprepared for classroom management. The kids steamrolled me the first day I taught, and I was utterly unable to plan for the unpredictability of small children en masse. Did you know that markers are a terrible idea for kindergarteners? I didn't. In October 2019, Jon and I carefully crafted an academic calendar with perfectly planned events, vacations, and the first and last day of school. Then we had to blow it up as we faced a 2-week in-person school suspension that grew to 2 years.
Launching a school from scratch during a pandemic has provided our ministry with numerous obstacles which we were unprepared for. And yet.. we are amazed at God's faithfulness through it all. Despite many unexpected challenges and minimal planning, the school and church have grown immensely. Now, as we enter the next chapter and build/establish AMI International School and mature Iglesia La Gracia, we still feel unprepared at times. There are a few daunting challenges for our ministry - finding English teachers and a pastor to support the growing ministries. I would be lying if I said we weren't nervous or anxious about what lies ahead for the church and school as they grow. In fact, sometimes I am afraid of our ministry growing because we've felt stretched thin and can't imagine where future human resources will come from. Sometimes the ministry seems just too big.
However, God always answers, soothes, and comforts us when we are at our lowest. Jon led a devotional in a staff meeting, and we read the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. Jesus asked the disciples to feed the crowd that had come to hear him teach. The disciples could only find 5 loaves and 2 fish. Yet, there were thousands in the crowd. "But we only have 5 loaves and 2 fish!" complained the disciples. However, the disciples passed out the bread and fish until everyone was fed, and they had 12 baskets left over. This biblical account touched me in a way it hasn't before. On my low days, it feels like we only have 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed so many here. We only have our limited time to serve and support so many in our church and school. However, I am inspired by the disciples, that though it seemed impossible, they did the simple thing and followed Jesus' commands to feed his people. I want to do the simple thing and serve and love the people around me. Yes, plans are good, but I need to trust God's goodness and keep reaching into the basket until everyone has had enough. Hopefully, when it's all said and done, we'll have fed "our 5000" and be filled with joy at seeing the 12 baskets full of God's abundance, faithfulness, and provisions!