One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Jesus feeding a multitude of people with a little boy’s lunch. Jesus had been preaching all afternoon. It was getting late and the people were hungry.
Jesus challenged the disciples to feed them. They were amazed at this request. Phillip, one of the disciples, responded by offering a little boy’s lunch. The lunch consisted of five barley loaves and two small fish.
When Phillip presented the boy’s lunch, he coupled it to a rhetorical question, “What good is this (lunch) among so many people?”
I understand Phillip. Recently our congregation discovered that Denmark, S.C., is in the midst of a drinking water crisis. For 10 years, a chemical called Halosan was added to at least one of the municipality’s four wells. (Halosan is a pool and spa cleaner and not approved for human consumption.)
In June 2018, the EPA issued a cease to use order for the town of Denmark.
My congregation did not hear about this problem until the last week of November 2018. We responded by partnering with First Zion Baptist Church and Bible Missionary Baptist Church.
In one week, we were able to deliver more than 500 cases of bottled water to Denmark. But what is this in the face of such a great need?
One of Campbell Chapel’s members has solicited the assistance of his fraternity. They delivered two semi-truck loads of water to Denmark.
This year Campbell Chapel hosted the Community M. L. King Service. The local congregations and organizations purchased pallets of bottled water. Families and individuals donated cases and loose bottles of water.
To our amazement, more than a semi-truckload of water was collected. I am delighted that so many hearts have been touched by the Denmark water crisis. Many have offered sacrificial, loving responses to this problem.
However, I feel like Phillip: Providing bottled water is such a small response to this severe problem.
Perhaps the story of the little boy’s lunch can help us address the Denmark water crisis. As a child, I believed Jesus broke the little boy’s lunch into pieces and the pieces miraculously multiplied until more than enough food was available.
In seminary, a professor challenged us to revisit this story. Perhaps the miracle was not the multiplication of fish and loaves, but the multiplication of human generosity.
When the little boy offered his lunch, perhaps others began to offer their lunches also. Before long, there were enough lunches to feed 5,000 men, their spouses and children.
The Bible writers state that there were 12 baskets of leftovers.
Maybe this is the miracle Denmark needs. If we all gave what we have, we could resolve this problem.
Denmark needs good science, good public policy, caring neighbors, concerned politicians, objective journalists, creative problems solvers and prayerful congregations. The miracle Denmark needs might be the resulting synergy that comes when neighbors reach out to neighbors.
The Rev. Dr. Jon R. Black is senior pastor at Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church in Bluffton.