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The little church that could

While obsessed with a worldwide pandemic and Election Day worries, it’s helpful to remember that God is still in control and often provides the best gifts within small packages. Put your worries aside for a moment and marvel at how God works within a world struggling with crisis, tension and calamity.

Do you remember the children’s book: “The Little Engine that Could?” A train full of toy animals, dolls and every kind of thing boys or girls could want was stranded and could not get over the mountain to the village of children on the other side. What would they do?

• A shiny new engine was too good to help.

• A big engine would not help.

• A rusty old engine replied: “I am so tired. I must rest. I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.”

But a little blue engine replied, “I’m not very big, but I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

We all know the ending. “‘Hurray, hurray,’ cried the funny little clown and all the dolls and toys. ‘The good little boys and girls in the city will be happy because you helped us, kind and little blue engine.’ And the little blue engine smiled and seemed to say as she puffed steadily down the mountain. ‘I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.’”

There is a world full of people who desperately need to know how much God loves them and will care for them. What will we do?

There are shiny new churches that certainly can make a difference.

There are large mega churches who do great and mighty works.

There are old churches who say, “I’m too tired and discouraged. I cannot. I cannot.”

Meanwhile there are people who desperately need the hope only God’s church can offer.

There was one little church, however, which had once been vibrant and full of life, but they prayed about the needs of their community. Two people from their church joined a Bible study. During one class, both people felt the need to open their little church to an after-school ministry for children, “With God’s help,” they said, “I think I can. I think I can.”

Within a few weeks, children were dropped off at the little church where they would be greeted with individually-wrapped cookies and begin an hour-and-a-half of Zoom studies, fun, music, games and Bible study. Over the next few months, some of those children along with their parents began attending this same little church. “With God’s help, I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

One man in the community had COVID-19 and nearly died. While in the hospital, he made a vow to serve God and come to this same little church. A mother searching for answers brings her family to that little church looking for a fresh start. They become a source of inspiration and motivation for others. “With God’s help. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

A new Bible study starts, but this time the little church now has its own class full of people who are looking for answers and seeking ways to serve God. One woman in the class persuades her whole family into joining the Bible study, while another woman begins teaching youth in the Sunday school. The class forms a choir. “With God’s help. I think I can. I think I can.”

“Hurray, hurray,” cries this preacher, and people everywhere as this little church, surrounded by worldwide crisis puffs steadily on in service of God. And God replies, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The little church says, “With God’s help, we thought we could. We thought we could. We thought we could.” With God’s help, you can too.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.