Every day presents a new set of challenges that can either bury us or make us stronger in our faith. When I was pregnant again, standing in the grocery store with only $20 to spend on food for the week for our entire family, I realized those clear options and knew I had a choice: I could either despair or pray.
This time, instead of bursting into tears in the middle of Kroger, I prayed. God’s answer wasn’t to five loaves and two fishes my twenty. His answer wasn’t to send a fifty billion dollar bill in the middle of the aisle for me to stumble across. Very clearly, He told me to give half that money away to make sandwiches for people who were even more out of luck than we were.
That despair option had never looked more shiny and new, but I obeyed. $10 went to make sandwiches for people who were worse off than we were, and $10 went to feed our growing family. My friend took those sandwiches downtown to Detroit and passed them out at the bus station to the homeless people who were begging for change there.
If the story stopped there, it would still be a good one. That’s the funny thing about opening yourself up to God, even when His nudging seems totally opposite of our logic. A few years later, that $10 worth of sandwiches has exploded into a charity that feeds the homeless in Detroit and Macomb County. Jesus Loves the Little Children, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on helping clothe and feed the homeless. We went from a pregnant woman making sandwiches and one friend taking them downtown to now having over thirty people making sandwiches, bringing in old clothes, bottles of water, fruit, snacks and a team taking the goods downtown on a monthly basis.
I get to watch miracles happen in my house every month. For instance, we were about 50 bananas shy this month for the lunches we pack. Instead of getting frustrated or running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I prayed. Within ten minutes, one of my beautiful volunteers stopped in with exactly 50 bananas. I didn’t tell anyone but God that I needed bananas, and He took care of the problem. Half an hour later, we ran out of snack packs (snack bag ziplocs with pretzels or cookies inside). We were again, about 50 short. I prayed, and my pastor came in to deliver the sandwiches his family made, along with 25 extra snack bags to share. Not ten minutes later, a lovely volunteer comes with her delivery of sandwiches and – you guessed it – 25 more snack bags. I was short on water bottles, and water bottles were marched through my door. Another volunteer stayed and helped me pack all the lunches (over 200). When we prayed over the food, I asked God to five loaves and two fishes the meals, so they would feed as many people as they needed to.
When my delivery team got to the spot they hand out lunches at downtown, an event had taken over the park, and no homeless people were there to take the food. My delivery team leader for the day also had a choice: he could have despaired or prayed. He decided on praying. Right after he asked God for help, he recognized someone from the picnics and asked them what he thought they should do with all the lunches. He was directed to a place that had 150 people in desperate need of lunch and clothing – of which we had plenty. He was certain they would run out of sandwiches, since 120 lunches had already been taken to a homeless shelter in Macomb County earlier that day. But every time he looked, the box filled with sandwiches never ran out. It was five loaves and two fishes. My volunteers were part of a miracle, and I love them for it.
Every day presents a new set of challenges that can either bury us or make us stronger in our faith. While I still opt for the lure of despair too often to be proud of, that one time I prayed years ago set in motion a charity that strengthens my faith every single month. I get to see my friends and community love on strangers and care about people they’ll never receive anything from in return. I get to watch hearts grow and people get fed. I get to take cupcakes to kids living in shelters and watch their faces light up. And I get to watch five loaves and two fishes start in my very own living room.
Mary E. Twomey is the author of several young adult books and founder of the non-profit organization, Jesus Loves the Little Children, Inc. You can keep up with *this* Mary by following all her adventures on Facebook, or check out her incredible portfolio of books on Amazon.