By Nikki Smith, Trinity UMC, Las Vegas, Nevada

Loaves and Fishes-d

As the facilitator of the food ministry at the Society of St. Stephen (SOSS), a ministry of Trinity United Methodist Church in Las Vegas, I have often wondered about the biblical story of feeding 5,000. Not that I have ever doubted God’s ability to provide, but I have often thought that God often uses people, who faithfully serve to partake in the miracle moments. As I have read the feeding scriptures in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I often thought how God was at work within those who were present to allow everyone to be fed, when there appeared to be such limited resources. This was my question, until one day, I was blessed to have a small glimpse into how God both provides abundance, while also using common people as a blessing to their community.

Every Thursday the SOSS provides a food ministry for those who are in need within the Las Vegas Community. The food program is open to all who would come to receive assistance, which is usually about 150 families. The Food Rescue program is a partnership between SOSS and ThreeSquare that recovers perishable food from grocery stores which is then sorted and distributed on a first come first serve basis. Each week, ThreeSquare delivers between 1000 and 3,000 pounds of food which is typically enough to serve the 150 families seeking assistance. On this particular Thursday my greatest fears were realized. There were over 200 families to be served and we only received 1,000 pounds of food! I was afraid that we would have to turn people away hungry and without food for their families. As a person who is so deeply passionate about serving everyone, my heart began to break at the idea that we would not be able to help everyone. I had no idea what to do.

It was about the time that the food was sorted that one of the regular guests, a homeless man, noticed that the amount of food that was delivered was very little. He took it upon himself to spread the word about the shortage to the other homeless people who were waiting in line, and what happened next, was an answer to my long awaited question about the feeding of 5,000. In a tremendous act of faith, the homeless people in line collectively made the decision to wait until last to be served! Their justification for doing this was to allow those with families to be served first so that more of the food would be distributed to them first. I was shocked and amazed by what was happening. As people went through the line, no one took more than they needed, and in the end everyone, including the homeless, were served.

Trinity UMC Society of St Stephen's Ministry

            In this instance, I realized just how wonderful the grace of God is applied in our lives. In a time of scarcity, the community came together to help and serve one another. Not only was everyone “fed” physical food on that day, but I believe that we all were given a healthy dose of God’s Holy Spirit. Perhaps, this is how so many were fed in the biblical story. Rather than being a message of God’s provision of food, we are given a glimpse of God’s provision of Spirit, which swept across the community of those gathered to be filled so that all were satisfied, even to the point that there was some left over. I am thankful that I was blessed to experience such an event, and to receive a much deeper understanding of God’s grace and provision. It is because of this event that I can now truly understand what is written in the scriptures where it says “Man does not survive on bread alone.” To God be the glory!

To read another Loaves and Fishes story, click here.

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