Okay, so I'm on vaction. But I still get phone calls. And when I get these calls, I can find out about the crises occuring, usually after the aftermath has already occurred. So it was tonight.
Tonight I decide to check my messages and make the phone calls I need to make.
First I get a call from Rhonda, telling me that the group of boys who was supposed to be helping at the meal tonight wasn't coming. That's disappointing, but the main work would still be done. It'll work out.
The next call is from Janette, telling me that they are there at the church where the meal is happening tonight with 2000 pounds of food, but they can't get in. That's not good, but I'm wondering why they didn't call the cooks for that night, who was supposed to meet them.
The next call is from Richard, Janette's husband, who repeats that they have 2000 pounds of food to drop off at the church, and that they called the cooks who said that they are stuck in the snow and can't come tonight. They want to know what they are supposed to do.
I look at the clock. 8pm. The meal is just supposed to be finishing.
So I am on vaction. I am supposed to be taking a break from Anawim and all the stresses. And what I find is that while I might be taking a break from doing the work of the ministries, the stresses follow after me, pursue me like the Hound of Heaven.
I try to call Mike Desario, who was supposed to be helping tonight, and who has the keys to the church, but he's not answering his phone.
Then I try to call Richard back, got through, so I ask him what happened. He said that he drove over to my house, talked to Mike Desario (whom we call "Hammer") who said he'd help him unload. They open the church and unload the food. Then the two of them concoct a plan to have the meal happen as usual. Richard and Janette get hot dogs and buns and Hammer takes the rest of the food and gets it ready. Richard says that Mike really took charge and responsibility for the evening.
As Richard was driving back to the church with the food, he tells me, he was feeling that they needed to open the meeting with the Lord's prayer. He doesn't remember to say this to anyone. But as Mike opens the meal, he leads with the Lord's prayer. Richard sees this as confirmation that the Lord was really in this time.
Eventually Hammer (remember, this is Mike?) calls me. He is exhausted and exhilarated. He can't believe all that had happened today. He said that Richard and Janette showed up at the house and he just didn't know what to do. So he just did it. One thing led to another, and pretty soon, he realized that he was planning and preparing a meal for up to a hundred hungry people.
So he calls up his friend Jesse and asks him if he and possibly some folks from Jesse's Christian community might come over and help. Jesse immediately drops his plans for the evening, contacts about four of his friends and they come over. They help serve and just talk to many of the homeless and mentally ill individuals who were there that night. Then they swept and mopped the floor as Mike finished up in the kitchen.
God, as usual, comes through. Seventy or so hungry people have been feed and ministerd to. All the Anawim crises always end in the most surprising ways, displaying resources that we didn't know God had available to Him. Sometimes these resources come from reserves within ourselves, sometimes it comes from others who love Him and are prepared by Him to serve.
As for me, I had a very brief heart attack, but I'm doing better now. I'm not sure whether to think that I shouldn't have left on vaction this week, as the meetings seem to be going from one crisis to another, or whether I just shouldn't return at all, and let God do miracle after miracle, letting Him get the glory.
Meanwhile, Mike-- as well as Richard, Janette and Jesse and his friends-- has been tested and proven to be precious metal, not dross. I welcome him to the club of the nervous wrecks.