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Where the Grass Is Green

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This piece was taken from the latest NCM Magazine issue, Summer 2017, available online now. Read more here.

There’s a wonderful story in the Gospel of Mark.

It’s the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. The disciples are exhausted, and they’re overwhelmed with the needs of the people. They realize the crowd has nothing to eat, so they go to Jesus and say, “Please send them away so they can get something to eat.” But Jesus said, “What do you have? You feed them.” They found five loaves of bread and two fish, and they gave them to Jesus. He broke the bread and multiplied it, but before that He said something very interesting. He said, “Seat the people on the patches of green grass.”

That phrase has always struck me.

Why the green grass? What is the significance? Throughout Scripture, green grass, whether it’s in Isaiah or Psalm 23, symbolizes the in-breaking kingdom of God. The green grass got me thinking about my first visit to Swaziland.

Our church group was there to work with a health clinic, a church, and a school. We went to a mission site in an area called Sitsatsaweni in one of the most remote parts of Swaziland. They were in a drought, and there was no water for a community of 12,000 people.

Their fields were dry. They had no crops. Their livestock were dying. And we were there trying to do what we could and to offer what we had.

A man with us by the name of Fred Evans said, “Pastor, I see a water well across the way. Can I go look at that?” That well had not worked for years, but he came back and said, “I believe there’s water there.”

As a group, we held hands and stood around that water well and prayed, “God we’re bringing you what little we have. Please do something extraordinary here.”

Fred went home and designed a solar-panel water well system. He said we could make this for $25,000. We raised the money and went back and installed the very first solar-panel water well in Swaziland.

A year later, I went back to see what God had done in Sitsatsaweni. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was green in all of the fields. All of the pastures were full of crops. The livestock were back. The children were running and laughing and playing.

As I looked at what that fresh water had done in that place that was so broken and so dry, I saw new life. There, by the nurse’s station at the clinic, was green grass. God’s kingdom was breaking in.

The Coca Cola Foundation found out about it and said they wanted to buy the design to build more. They had a million dollars, and we said, “We want you to start with the seven Nazarene health clinics.”

Now, there are thousands more people with water.

That happened because a man named Fred at a Nazarene church in Oklahoma said, “Lord, I give you what I have. If you’ll take what I have and multiply it in Your hands, a miracle can happen.”

When we offer what we have, God will turn our little into a lot.

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