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'Faith...Just a Little Faith'

by Rev. Meri Whitaker


Ezekiel 37: 1-14,  Ps. 130, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45

A few years ago a movie came out called The Sixth Sense.  I never saw the movie but we all know the catch line "I see dead people."  That alone was enough to make me decide that I didn't want to see the picture, it just seemed morbid.  As I read the Scriptures for today this phrase kept coming back to me..."I see dead people."  You might know, I would get the Scriptures that deliver a seemingly morbid message.  Ezekiel was taken to a field that was full of dead, dried bones.  The bones themselves said that they were "dried and hope was lost." (vs. 11)  Ezekiel did as God commanded. He prophesied and the bones came together, he prophesied again and the muscle and the flesh came upon them but there was NO breath in them. 

In the Scripture in John, Jesus went to Bethany because his friend Lazarus was dead, there was NO life in him.  All hope was lost and his sisters and friends were devastated.  They knew and believed that if Jesus had been there things would have been different but it was too late.
 
Jesus went to the cross and for three days there was no life in him.  Once again, it seemed hopeless, even though they had experienced first hand the power of the Christ, there was simply nothing that could be done. For many people this is the end or the story, they only see dead people, but the message in all of these cases is that the Spirit of God restores life out of depths of death and hopelessness.  When all else has failed, when there is no place else to turn, when hope is lost, GOD COMES THROUGH!

As a United Methodist missionary I spend a great deal of time speaking in churches and helping people understand the "call to" and the "scope of" mission work in The United Methodist Church.  I am frequently asked the question; "why Oklahoma?  What on earth is there in Oklahoma?"  As I read these Scriptures it became clear to me that there are many dead, dried bones in Oklahoma, as well.  The area I serve is inundated with a sense of being dried up and hopeless.  I serve in three of the four poorest counties in Oklahoma (which is one of the poorest states in the country).  We deal with an extremely high rate of violence and rape, a high level of drug production, a high percentage of incarcerations, especially among women, teen pregnancy, teen suicide and white supremacy.  Dried bones, dried bones, dried bones............hopelessness..............despair.   But the underlying theme of these combined Scriptures is: when the Spirit of God is introduced to hopelessness even those things that seem impossible are accomplished.

We go to the valley of dry bones because we understand the hope of our faith.  We know that God will bring about life, God will bring about change, and God will bring about resurrection.
 
I preach in a small Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference Church that had essentially died in 1992.  We were able to revive its ministry and vision by reaching out specifically to recovering alcoholics and addicts in our area.  Many in the congregation have had trouble with the law and have spent a large block of time incarcerated.  We pray for these family members every week. 

The children of one of our men who was in prison never let a Sunday go by without asking for prayer for their dad.  One particular Sunday as I entered the pulpit area I looked out across the congregation and there sat the children with their dad.  This was really unexpected as he had several years left on his sentence.  I watched him as the service progressed and with every song, with every prayer and throughout the sermon, tears just rolled down his cheeks.  When worship was over, I went to the back to greet people.  The man walked up to me and asked if he could speak with me. He followed me as I moved to a more private area and began to share this:

"You know that I got released two weeks ago.  I been looking for a job and nobody will have me.  I gotta take care of my family and nobody is gonna give me a chance.  This morning I got up and I knew that I was either gonna go to church or I was gonna kill myself.  I got down on my knees and I asked God to give me just a little "faith...just a little faith".  You see that little girl over there? 

I looked and one of our four-year-olds was standing off at a distance.

"You see that little girl?  She come up to me when I got here and she said, 'I’m really glad you are here.  You look really sad, I want to give you a present.'  I was really touched, but I want to show you what she gave me."

With that he burst into tears and opened up his hand and there in his hand was a little gold necklace and hanging on the gold chain was the word "FAITH".

I believe that this is what God has called missionaries to do, to go into fields of dried bones, to go places where hope is lost, to encounter people whose spirit know no life and give them "JUST A LITTLE FAITH".  To put their bones together just enough so that when the spirit of God is breathes upon them they are restored.  AMEN

Your local church may choose to enter into a multi-year Covenant Relationship with Meridith Kay Whitaker,  or other United Methodist missionaries, for ongoing support of their work. For further information, please contact:

The Advance
General Board of Global Ministries
475 Riverside Dr, #350
New York, NY 10115
Phone: 212-870-3718
Fax: 212-870-3775

Email:
covenant@gbgm-umc.org

Web: advancinghope.org

You can make gifts to support the mission work of Meridith Kay Whitaker, by making a donation through The Advance. The Advance is an accountable, designated giving arm of The United Methodist Church that ensures 100% of each gift reaches its intended mission or ministry.

Make a secure gift online: Visit Global Ministries Online Giving

Checks may be written to 'Advance GCFA' and placed in collection plates at United Methodist churches, or mailed directly to:

Advance GCFA,
P.O. Box 9068, GPO,
New York, NY 10087-9068.

Credit card donations may be made by calling
(888) 252-6174.

Please note on your check the name and The Advance Number of the missionary you are supporting:

Meridith Kay Whitaker, Advance Number: 982994
>> Biography


 
See Also...
Topic: Children Christian love Communities Lent Missionaries Prayers
Geographic Region: United StatesSouth Central U.S.
Source: Mission Personnel
 
 

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Date posted: Mar 10, 2008