In 1995, God called Heidi Baker, a woman with a Ph.D in systematic theology, to go and serve in Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. Once there, her team was eventually given a children’s center with about 80 residents. They would work with these kids to show them the love and power of Jesus, and in time, their dining room became a church. Their efforts with these kids and the surrounding community would be powerful, but so would the oppression they faced by both locals and the government.
Eventually the community reported that there was a contract out to kill Heidi and her ministry was told to cease religious activities and stop helping people with “unauthorized” distributions of support. Sadly, the Baker’s had to leave and the kids that were left behind were beaten and punished when they continued to worship Jesus. But over time, almost all of the kids eventually left the center to camp out in or around the Baker’s one-story house. When other Christian ministries heard about this, they put some of the kids in their unused buildings. As you might imagine, food began to run out as they served the crowd and they became desperate.
One day a friend from the U.S. Embassy brought the Baker family a pot of chili to feed Heidi, her husband, and her two children. But just as Jesus blessed five loaves of bread and two fish and then served five thousand, so did Heidi bless the pot of chili and then fed over 50 hungry children. And just as God provided for them all in that moment, so would he continue to provide as more and more children showed up and Heidi’s ministry grew to serve them all.
It was thought that when the Messiah would come, he would bring about the return of Moses’ manna. This happened, but in the most unexpected way. Rather than God raining down bread from Heaven, God distributed bread by hand in the form of Jesus. He is a God who provides for us and sustains us in all moments, even by becoming bread himself.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Luke 9:1-17 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. You can read the longer version of today’s story here.