We had a guest preacher in our church recently that shared with us the ministry of an inter-denominational group known as "Food for the Poor." They provide food, medicine and all kinds of assistance to the poorest people in the western hemisphere, especially those who live throughout the Caribbean and Central America. He shared stories from both Haiti and Guatemala.

We had a guest preacher in our church recently that shared with us the ministry of an inter-denominational group known as "Food for the Poor." They provide food, medicine and all kinds of assistance to the poorest people in the western hemisphere, especially those who live throughout the Caribbean and Central America. He shared stories from both Haiti and Guatemala.


In his presentation, this pastor spoke of growing up in rural Missouri where there were more unpaved roads than paved ones. When the dirt roads became wet, it was not uncommon to see vehicles stuck in the mud. On one such occasion, a farmer came along with his mule. As is often the case, this mule was wearing blinders so as not to be distracted or startled by things beside him. The farmer was kind enough to hitch his mule to the front bumper of the car in order to pull it out of the mud. As he moved the mule into position, the farmer said, "Pull Jenny. Pull Ben. Pull Susie. Pull Jake." And all at once Jake leaned into the task and easily pulled the car out of its sticky situation. As he was unhitching the mule, this pastor asked the farmer, "Why did you call out those different names before you told Jake to pull?" The farmer replied, "If old Jake thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t have tried at all!"


We all have a bit of mule in us. As those who have been led to faith in Jesus Christ, we have the assurance of forgiveness for all sins and the certainty of eternity with our Lord. As we wait for the fulfillment of that promise, we have been given the task of making disciples, sharing the message with others. As part of that, we are to show care and concern for the physical needs of our neighbors as well. Jesus spoke of that in his last "sermon" before being crucified. His message in Matthew 25 encouraged his followers to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe and house the needy. And then he added: I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)


Sometimes, the task seems daunting. There is so much need, there are so many needy people, and there is so much to do. Where can you start? Wherever you are. Be the hands of Jesus to the people around you. Even when you might think you are "the only one pulling," you are not alone. First of all, the Lord Himself promised to be with you (Matthew 28:20). Second, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). And third, we should remember that we are part of the Body of Christ. As such, each of us have a part to play, a role to fulfill, a function to accomplish (1 Corinthians 12:27).


The last stanza of the hymn "Hark the Voice of Jesus Crying" gives us this encouragement:


Let none hear you idly saying there is nothing I can do


While the souls of men are dying and the master calls for you


Take the task He gives you gladly, Let His work your pleasure be;


Answer quickly when He calls you, "Here am I! Send me, send me!"



Rev. Michael Mattil is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Denison.