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The little church that could

Do you remember, “The Little Engine that Could?” A train full of toys, dolls and every kind of thing boys or girls could want is stranded and cannot get over the mountain to the village of children. What would they do?

A shiny new engine asked to help replies, “I’m a passenger engine. Indeed not!”

A big engine, stops and says, “I’m a freight engine, a very important engine indeed. I won’t pull the likes of you!” A rusty old engine when asked replies, “I’m so tired. I must rest. I can not — I can not — I can not.”

A very little engine was asked next. He replys, “I’m not very big, but I think I can — I think I can — I think I can.” 

We all know the end of the story. “Hurray, hurray, cries the clown and all the dolls and toys.”

“The good little boys and girls in the city will be happy because you helped us.” The little blue engine smiles and puffs down the mountain, “I thought I could — I thought I could — I thought I could.”

There are plenty of churches that behave much as these engines.

The shiny new church says to people in need, “I’m busy paying for my building!” The large mega church says, “I’m too busy with my own ministries.” The established church says, “I’m too tired and discouraged to help you!” 

Meanwhile there are people all around who desperately need to hear the hope offered by the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter that only God’s church can offer. 

“Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where the women were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move.” —Matthew 28:2-4 

There was one very little church, once vibrant and full of life, that now was struggling. On a typical Sunday morning only 10 or 12 people came, but they prayed about the needs of their community and two of them joined a year-long Bible study.

During one class both people felt the need to open their very little church to an after-school ministry. “With God’s help,” they said, “I think I can — I think I can — I think I can!” 

Within a few weeks, 39 children were being dropped off at the same little church.

They were greeted with cookies and began an hour of fun, music, games and Bible study. Over the next few months and years, some of those children and their parents began attending church. “With God’s help, I think I can — I think I can — I think I can.” 

“The angel spoke to the women, ‘There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.’”  — Matthew 28:5-6 

One man in the same community had a heart attack and nearly died. While in the hospital he made a vow to serve God and come to this same little church.

Another man, discouraged with church life, brought his family to look for a fresh start. Both men become a source of inspiration. “With God’s help, I think I can — I think I can — I think I can!”

A year-long Bible study is started, but this time the little church has its own class full of people seeking ways to serve God.

One woman persuades her family to join, while another begins teaching youth in Sunday school. A couple living together asks to be married. The class forms a choir. “With God’s help, I think I can — I think I can — I think I can!”

“Hurray, hurray,” cries the preacher, and God replies, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES  can be reached at larrydavies@sowingseedsoffaith.com.