Nov 24, 2010

Thankful for God's Provision

A couple of times now in the past month, God has provided for the ministry in ways that serve to remind me that He's in charge. No matter how much I plan, manage or do, He's simply in charge.

One occasion was a Friday outreach. The day before, I had visited with about 45 street youth, which is a huge number. I am only typically outfitted for about 20 people on Friday, so I began to wonder, "How is that going to work?" I decided to cut sandwiches in half. But the sandwiches came already in lunch bags, so I thought that as too much work and decided not to. Instead I told the volunteers to perhaps make a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to stretch things.

For that same day, I had three volunteers signed up. That's one more than normal but that was OK. However, one was a mom brining her two kids. And another was an excited UT student who kept emailing me to say he was brining one, then two, then three more friends. And then a UT reporter wanted to come along, working on a story about the often invisible street youth. So suddenly the three names represented nine volunteers. "That is too many," I thought. "We'll creep out the street kids!" But I didn't want to turn away new volunteers, so I just held my breath and figured, "I'll find a way to make it work!"

And to make things even stranger, when I got to the parking lot where I stage the start of the Friday "mini-mission" trip each week, a young lady was waiting for me. I didn't recognize her, but she came up and gave me a bag of 20 more sandwiches. She said, "The person who normally delivers them can't bring them today. Sorry!" I had no idea what she was talking about, but I took them. (I later found that they failed to sign-up but had planned to bring sandwiches that day.)

So there we were suddenly with three times the volunteers and sandwiches as any normal Friday afternoon! We headed off after some intense but quick training. It was awkward at first. One street kid would come up and nine people would offer food or socks or other clothing. But we got the drill down after a couple of attempts.

Naturally, we ran into lots of street youth! And we had plenty for them. We came to the market square which normally has vendors in it. But they had gone home early and the square was filled with about 15 to 20 street youth, all sitting around on their packs. They were just hanging out, so the volunteers spread out and began ministry.

I found them in groups talking about where they had came from. I found them in groups talking bout God. I found them in groups talking about their stories. And I even found them in groups praying together. It was just an awesome evening! And I could not have planned it.

The second time? Just this past Tuesday. I had someone signed up to provide a "mini Thanksgiving meal." She was excited. A friend had also been working to get her small group to make sandwiches on Tuesdays once a month. She had a hard time getting the date set, and, when she finally did, it was the same Tuesday. I started to tell her no, but I decided not to because it has been such trouble to set in the first place. I quietly planned to freeze the sandwiches for another week, but wouldn't you know it? The original person got sick and called to cancel. She was so relieved when I told her that God had already signed someone up for the day! So once again, God came through with just what was needed.

These are two but examples of which I'm aware. I believe that God is doing this all the time. This Thanksgiving, I hope you also get the chance to pause and realize that God almost always supplies us amply and generously in His own way. And whether we have much or have little, we can be grateful and praise God. 
The street youth and I recently prayed and studied Psalm 100. We want to make a joyful noise to the Lord. We want everyone to know "He is God!" And we want to bless His name by how we worship God, treat one another, and act toward our community. Amen.
"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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