Jesus Meets the Wants Beyond the Needs
by Marta Beidler Castillo, Leadership Minister (Wellspring congregation)
Before Jesus feeds the five thousand (John 6), he sees a great crowd coming toward him and he says to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this to test Philip, John says, because Jesus already knew what he was going to do.
Right now, I feel like Philip, who answers, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” I am wondering where the provision will come from to meet all the needs we’re seeing just in our conference, congregations, Conference Related Ministries, and connected ministries in Mexico and beyond. Maybe it’s a test for us, since God already has in mind what God is going to do.
Going back to the story, we remember that Jesus fed them all as much as they wanted with a boy’s offering of five small barley loaves and two small fish. I am now the small boy ready to offer what I have and stand back to watch how God will bless, multiply, and distribute all that is needed and wanted.
A Stimulus Relief Package and the Shalom Fund
by Luke Beidler, Methacton congregation
This week, the Times Herald pictured President Trump signing the corona virus stimulus relief package at the White House. The article headlined, “Relief checks are a lifeline for some, a cushion for others.”
What do these checks mean for me? For you?
As I answer this question, I feel my identity as a follower of Jesus, as a member of an Eastern District & Franconia Conference congregation. I strongly feel my commitment to the Anabaptist faith, to feeding the hungry, and to healing the sick. This is exactly the time for us to show our colors, to put ourselves on the front lines together with first responders, doctors, and nurses. To show ourselves willing to sacrifice that others may live! Can we join all people of faith and the secular community, seeking the welfare of the towns and cities of all the nations? Praying and supporting a fair, just distribution of required resources!
So what does it mean for me and my family? Can I, as a landlord (I hate that term), be part of the vision to forgive late and unpaid rents, especially for those affected by the virus or loss of job? Can my wife and I add stimulus to stimulus by matching Everence funds in our local congregation to cover some of the losses of our members and next-door neighbors? Freely received, freely give! How about carrying with you envelopes with a hundred dollars to give a stranger who reveals a real need?!
And can we move from our local congregations and counties to pick up the unequal burdens that our urban congregations and their populations face? Pandemics demand an out-in-the-world dynamic. Now is not the time for a scarcity mentality but a joyous generosity to give people hope one day at a time. This is the vision of the Shalom Fund that Eastern District & Franconia Conference has announced for our consideration. In a pandemic, the disadvantages of the homeless, immigrants, and lower income families grow. I would like to see each of us, with passion, pass on and multiply our stimulus checks. I would like to see each of our conference congregations each give $10,000 for a stimulus relief offering for the healing of the nations.
May the open hand rather than the closed fist be our learning and joy!
Marta Beidler Castillo and Luke Beidler are daughter and father. If you would like to learn more about the conference Shalom Fund or donate to the fund, please click here.