Wednesday, April 24
Day of Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide
I recently discussed Matthew 14:15–18 with our first-year students at Justo Mwale Theological University College. I asked them how the disciples might have felt when Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” I expected my students to say that the disciples felt confused, mystified, overwhelmed, challenged. But one Zambian student responded, “They were probably afraid they’d lose the little bit they had.”
That spoke to me, because I realized my students’ own experiences (in this case, of hunger) help them to see things in Scripture that I overlook. The student’s comment also spoke to me because I have often felt something similar in my own experience of ministry. When God has put new opportunities and responsibilities before me, I haven’t only felt challenged and mystified, I’ve been fearful of losing something precious, something I already feel short of. Unlike my students, it has never been food. Usually it is the little bit of time and energy that I have, and which I hold dear, or my sense of control in life, which I hold very dear.
Jesus must have known his words would frighten his disciples, yet he spoke them anyway. By speaking those words, he opened an opportunity that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. Over 5,000 hungry people experienced the abundance of God, and the disciples learned something about trusting Jesus when the temptation was to fear losing the little they had.
Jesus’ command “You give them something to eat” might make us afraid of losing the little that we have. On the other hand, following through on his command might also open the chance to see more of Jesus than we’ve ever seen before. And it might allow us, as it did the disciples, to be part of something that’s truly amazing.
Let us join in prayer for:
United Church of Zambia: Peggy Mulambya-Kabonde, general secretary • Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Synod of Zambia (CCAP/Zambia): Rev. Dr. Victor Chilenje, moderator, Rev. Maleka Rabson Kabendama, general secretary, Mr. Isaac B. Ngulube, general treasurer • The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, Zambia (UPCSA/Zambia): Rev. Thomson Mkandawire, moderator, Rev. Sauros Phaika, clerk, Elder Manuel Harawa, general treasurer • Christian Hospital Association of Zambia: Mrs. Kereni Sichingé, director • Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation: Dr. William Temu, director • Theological Education by Extension Zambia: Rev. Kangwa Mabuluki, director • Justo Mwale Theological University College: Dr. Edwin Zulu, rector, Dr. Lameck Banda, dean of studies
Presbytery Partnerships: Presbytery of Philadelphia, with CCAP/Zambia and UPCSA/Zambia
Let us pray
O God, sometimes the path of discipleship challenges and even frightens us. We confess that fear slows us down and holds us back. Forgive us, and grant us a trusting heart that is open to whatever you might wish to do through us. Let us see what you would have us do, and give us grace to embrace it. Amen.
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