In John 6, we find Jesus surrounded by crowds of people, eager to hear his teaching and to see him perform miracles. But there is a problem.
The people are hungry, far from home, and have nothing to eat. Jesus, compassionate as ever, knows the people need food, but there are 5,000 men there, not to mention all the women and children. How could he and the disciples possibly find enough food to go around? While the flustered disciples try to come up with an answer, a small boy looks at whatâ€™s in his hands and shuffles forward, clutching his packed lunch.
When we look at the world around us, we can be overwhelmed by the needs and the suffering we see. It can be difficult to believe that anything we could do would make a difference. But the wonderful truth is that God can take the little we have to offer, strengthen it, extend it and multiply it. Through his power, we can make a big change.
Pastor Jean-Paul Aruna is a man of deep faith, with a big heart for children. He longs to see the churches in Goma promote the rights of children and child protection. He is well-connected with church leaders in the area, but how could he change his communityâ€™s deeply-ingrained negative attitudes towards children? With the help of Susie Howe, BCTâ€™s Director, Jean-Paul arranged a training workshop in childrenâ€™s rights for church leaders in Goma. And as the workshop ran its course, Jean-Paulâ€™s prayers were answered spectacularly. The delegates pledged to confront harmful attitudes and child abuse in any form, and wept with remorse for how they had formerly neglected the children in their churches. They all experienced a dramatic change of heart and went home determined to protect the children in their communities. There is still a long way to go to make sure the children of Goma are protected, valued and enabled to thrive, but Jesus is at work there. Through Jean-Paulâ€™s faithfulness and willing to give what was in his hands, Jesus has already done amazing things.
I wonder what was going through the boyâ€™s mind as he handed over his bread and fish to Jesus. I imagine him standing, open-mouthed, as the bread and fish multiplied before his very eyes. How might the rest of his life have been different because of the day he gave the little he had to Jesus, and saw thousands of people fed? What the boy found out that day, and what Jean-Paul knows very well, is that even when we donâ€™t have much to offer, Jesus can do the impossible. It makes you wonder what he might do with whatâ€™s in your hands.