A man is walking along the beach, where hundreds of starfish have washed up after a storm.
He watches as a little boy picks one up, carries it to the water and throws it in.
Then he picks up another one and does the same thing. The man approaches the boy and says, “There are hundreds of fish and miles of beach, you can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy picks up another starfish, tosses it into the water, and says “I made a difference for that one.” Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley
Breathtakingly beautiful Manitoulin is the world’s largest fresh water island, its granite and limestone cliffs, thick forests and gently rolling fields wrapped around by the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. This land was inhabited by its people long before Abraham, the father of our faith, was born. Perhaps they were among those scattered at the Tower of Babel.
Today, limited opportunities, widespread addiction and deep wounds of brokenness mark a people whose greatest affliction is poverty of spirit. Once, they lived simply, in harmony with the land; now, they are caught uncomfortably between two worlds, trying to find their way.
One week on the island was too short a time to truly see and fully know what life is like for these people. To make a difference. Yet, as the starfish story illustrates, no effort is too small to be meaningful. Look at what God did with a young boy’s lunch of 5 barley loaves and 2 fish when he offered them to Jesus.
More than a dozen sweet-faced children basked in the loving attentions of our little church group. They warmed our hearts and we nourished theirs. Our day program, with its circus theme, interweaving biblical stories and songs about Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb – provided teaching and entertainment.
The women in our small group were strong in their faith and hungered for more of God. We were surprised at their biblical knowledge – and then more surprised at the disconnect between the Gospel truth they know and the way they live their lives.
Generational sins. Ungodly soul ties. Children born out of wedlock. A spiritual battle hundreds of years old bravely being fought by a tiny band of believers. Fervently praying for the salvation of their people.
Amid the sadness, pain and fear, there is hope. Flickering flames of faith glow in the darkness as Christians come together (in unity – that too is a battle they are fighting). The Holy Spirit is moving, working slowly but evidently. Now, we add our faith to theirs. Our voices pray with theirs. We are believing that we will see God’s glory manifested in this land.
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