Great Plains Daily Devotional for 2/3/2022

Today please be in prayer for

Lincoln Horizons Community UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln Lakeview UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln Neighbors UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln New Hope UMC
Prairie Home, NE UMC
Blue River District

Today's Lectionary Text

Jonah 4:2 

You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient.  You always show love, and you don’t like to punish anyone.

Today's Devotional

The verse above was the memory verse for the EH Kids this fall.  They learned about Jonah, and then they also learned about how God gives people second chances!  The children really identified with this verse and the story of Jonah, and this translated even to the choice they made for their Sunday School and Wednesday night offerings.  You see, I had received a letter from the Protestant Chaplain at the El Dorado Correctional Facility this fall asking for funds ($10 per inmate) to help the chaplain’s office provide Christmas devotionals and a little gift to each inmate.  I gave the children 2 options for where their offering would go, and they very quickly decided it should go to the men at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.  They brought their allowance money and their birthday money, and eventually they collected just over $46 which was a record for them!

I called and told the Chaplain’s office that we would be sending our contribution, and I explained the gifts were from our children who had been learning about how God gives second chances.  I was thanked, and I figured that would be the last I heard of our children’s gift.  But, I found out just recently that the children’s offering had been a part of a Christmas miracle.  On the very day I called and told the Chaplain that we would be sending a check, the office was seriously reconsidering their goal of giving out 1400 gifts, because there were very few donations coming in.  When they heard of the children’s gift, however, they were renewed in their efforts and they decided to share the children’s story to encourage more donations.

The Chaplain’s office shared that they had $46 from children in the community, and that they needed additional contributions to make gift for all the men possible.  The story took off and churches from all over the US--places like Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey--began sending funds.  One church out of Wisconsin sent $4000.  Billie Graham ministries even heard the story of OUR EH Kids, and they sent funds.  In total, over $15,000 was raised—all because of the $46 that our EH Kids collected.

The story of the collection of the money was amazing, but even more amazing were the responses that came in from the men who received the gifts.  The Chaplains had never given gifts to the segregation inmates (those on death row), but they gave them gifts this year.  These men who had never received anything out of the ordinary responded with notes of thanks.  One Muslim man received a gift and in his response he said that his bias toward Christians had been removed because of the love shown. He specifically lifted up the gift from our EH Kids.  There are additional messages from this experience that I look forward to sharing with the church in the coming weeks, and I hope we will be able to share our story in very visible ways.        

I think it is so important for us to remember that it is through our simple actions that God can do amazing things, just as our EH Kids did.  We don’t have to solve all the world’s problems, but we are called to do what we can to bring the love of God to all people.  We can do our part, and then leave the rest to God.  God will multiply our gifts and do amazing things. 

Rev. Dr. Kim Dickerson-Oard
Wichita East Heights UMC
kdickersonoard@greatplainsumc.org

Prayer for Reflection

O God, we thank you for the gifts of our EH Kids.  We thank you for those who serve in prison ministry and help others know there is always a second chance with God.  Thank you for taking our gifts and multiplying them so that we can share your love with the world.  Amen.  

 

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