A reflection by Kendra Harbeck, manager of Global Mission and Service office.
While our American holiday of sharing lists of gratitude while over-eating and watching football is still a week away, the Office of Global Mission and Service has been giving thanks with partners around the world for the past few months.
Mano Amiga a los Hermanos, a ministry of the Spanish Church of the Brethren, pulled in a beautiful harvest to help feed immigrants in need. Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo rejoiced in the maize harvest they shared with members of the Twa (Pygmy) group. A ministry with the Church of the Brethren in Brazil worked with inmates to grow a garden within a prison. And Global Mission and Service volunteer Turner Ritchie shared the joy of the rice harvest at Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan.
At the same time, the past months have been filled with stories of hunger around the world, millions of people in need due to violence or drought in Central America, South Sudan, Nigeria, and beyond. People are in need due to factors beyond their control.
From our God who works through juxtaposition, I hear the call to give beyond our control. It’s a hard challenge. And it always has been.
Matthew 14 tells us of a time when the disciples tried to convince Jesus to send away the massive, hungry crowd who was listening to him on a hillside. I bet the disciples were exhausted and in no mood to manage what could easily turn into a massive, angry crowd. Likely, they were also hungry and wanted to keep their meager rations for themselves. “We’ve given so much already,” they might have said. “We’re not ready to offer this too. Let us at least have some control over our own supper.” But Jesus would not be bossed around or controlled: “YOU give them something to eat.”
In this time of thanksgiving for God’s generosity and the fruits of creation, in this world of great abundance surrounded by great need, we are called to feed God’s sheep. We are not to worry about carefully calculating how much money we can pass on after we’ve met our needs, imagined needs, comforts, and wants. We are called to feed our sisters and brothers with more than we are ready to share. Called to give to anybody that asks of us, even and especially when it doesn’t fit into our plans. Called to open ourselves up to Christ’s way of selfless love and to let our lives be changed beyond our control.
My prayer is that God will help us to do so.